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I 





Only real men 
can wear it 




No shoulder insignia in the U. S. Army 
is more proudly worn than the red-white- 
and-blue Octofoil of the Ninth Infantry 
Division. Along with it goes the Belgian 
Fourragere. You can wear both — if you’re 
man enough to measure up to the standards 
of a great lighting tradition. 

The Ninth Infantry Division spear- 
headed the invasion of North Africa. It 
helped stop Rommel and drove the enemy 
into the sea at Bizerte. The Ninth was in 
Sicily. It won the first smashing victory of 
the Normandy invasion. It was the first 
U. S. infantry division to cross the Rhine. 

Yes, the Ninth was a great outfit then 
and it is now. Today’s Combat Soldier is 
hard physically and alert mentally. He is 
skilled in the use of many weapons and 
has his choice of training in a wide variety 
of technical skills. He moves fast — often 



through the air, usually by swift motor 
transport. 

If you are 17 to 34 and can measure up 
to the high standards of a Combat Soldier, 
you’ll get your training with the Ninth or 
one of three other famous divisions. If you 
are a veteran of the Armed Forces you 
may be able to enlist directly in the Ninth. 
Get the facts at your U. S. Army and 
U. S. Air Force Recruiting Station. 

U. S. ARMY AN DU. S. AIR FORCE 
RECRUITING SERVICE 



CAREERS WITH A FUTURE 

(I. S. Army and 
U. S. Air Force 




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JULY 1948 




WILLIAM B. ZIFF 
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and Publisher 

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President 



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THE EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK 

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By Charles Recour 



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(i) 



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i 



VOLUME 10 



NUMBER 7 



All StosUed Go-mplete 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 

(Novel) by Berkeley Livingston 8 

Illustrated by Rod Ruth 

The strength of Queen Luria and her black panther hordes was not equal to the cunning of 
Loko and his lizard men— unless Luria could capture the enchanted Croana bird . . . 

MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 

(Short) by Richard S. Shaver 90 

Illustrated by Virgil Finlay 

Lola was a queen in her own way— queen of the mirrors in a burlesque show. But these were 
not ordinary mirrors, for they opened, like windows, into a strange, alien world . . . 

CONTRACT FOR A BODY 

(Novelette) by Webb Marlowe 108 

Illustrated by William A. Gray 

It seemed like an easy way to obtain money— all you had to do was sign your name to a con- 
tract and your body was sold, to be delivered after death. But there was a catch . . . 

AIR RACE 

(Short) by Warren Kastel 136 

Illustrated by William A. Gray 

The Niles City Air Race meant a lot to Chocks Benson, especially the $5000 first prize. And the 
lack of an airplane didn't worry him, for Benson had a carpet— a flying one . . . 



Front cover painting by Ramon Naylor, illustrating 
a scene from "Queen of the Panther World." 



Copyright 1948, ZIFF-DAVIS PUBLISHING COMPANY 
Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations 

We do not accept responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts or artwork. To facilitate 
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that is tha same as that of any living person is coincidental, 

5 




Y OU readers may be receiving this issue of 
FA a few days late. We apolize for this, and 
don’t like it any more than you do, but 
unfortunately we are in the midst of a strike in 
the printing industry here in Chicago at this 
publication time, and as a result your favorite 
magazine has been caught in the middle of it. But 
don’t worry about receiving future copies of FA 
and the best in science — fantasy fiction it rep- 
resents — we’ll get the magazine to you if we have 
to mimeograph it and send it by carrier pigeon! 
So bear with us. 

N OW to get down to this month’s stories. 

You’ve already admired the swell cover by 
Ramon Naylor, no doubt, so we won’t have to 
tell you much about that. But the story around 
which the cover was painted is another matter. 
Old-timer, and top-notcher, Berkeley Livingston 
has turned in a typical Livingston masterpiece in 
“Queen of the Panther World.” You’ll be a little 
surprised by this yarn for you’ll find Berk has 
actually written himself in as one of the major 
characters in the story. You think that’s bad? 




Or maybe you’re wondering if it was a wise thing 
for an author to do? Well you read the story 
first, and then decide. Then write us. 

R ICHARD H. SHAVER returns this month 
with a neat little fantasy, also about a queen. 
But the queen in Dick’s story is quite a different 
gal than the one in our lead novel for this month. 
Dick writes about a “queen of the burlesque”, a 
lady w'ho didn’t use veils so much for sensational- 
ism, but mirrors. And that’s where the story 
begins, with the pecular set of mirrors used in a 
burlesque act. Where the story ends up would 
be unfair to tell you here, so you’ll just have to 
swallow the teaser we’ve handed you and find out 
for yourself! Incidentally, Dick dropped in the 
other day and said that if possible he’d like to 
have us tell you that he’s very glad the readers of 
FA have taken such an intense interest in the 
“Shaver Mystery Club”, and that also, for any 
who missed the letter concerning the club’s ac- 
tivities in the May issue, he’d be very glad to have 
them get in touch with him at 2414 Lawrence 
Ave., Chicago, and join. We think it’s a good 
idea too, for any of you readers who want to find 
out more about the Shaver Mystery, and you’ll 
certainly make a lot of pen-pals. 

T HIS month, in keeping with our policy of 
presenting new writers to you as often as we 
can, we’re presenting a novelette by a new writer 
in the field, Webb Marlowe. The story, entitled, 
“Contract For A Body”, is a darn good fantasy 
every way you look at it. It concerns a man who 
needed money pretty badly, and found that the 
only way he could get it would be to sell his body. 
No, not his soul— his body. Where is the fantasy 
in that? Well we can assure you that you’ll find 
plenty of it, not to mention the fact that Marlowe 
hit on a neat twist to an old theme. We think 
the lad has plenty on the ball, but w’ill leave that 
up to you when you write us about the story. 

W ARREN KASTEL finishes up the issue this 
month with a swell little fantasy, entitled, 
“Air Race.” This is the story of a flyer who en- 
tered an air race without an airplane. Impossible, 
you say? Well not quite. It seems that this flyer 
had something that was slightly better than an 
airplane — a flying carpet. No, don’t sit back so 
smug now and say you know the end of the story. 
Sure he has to win the race, you say. But we 
think you’ll be more than a little surprised at 
the ending to the story WLH 



6 




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It was a strange world, this world of 
Amazons and panthers — where all men 
bowed their heads in fear of the great Queen 
Luria . . . 




The Amazon moved quicker than t had expected, and suddenly my head rocked from a terrific blow. . 



I DO NOT say that adventure can- 
not begin anywhere. Of course it 
can! And usually does. But let us 
speak of specific places. I once met a 
Metropolitan baritone singing in a cheap 
honky-tonk on west Madison Street. He 
said it was the only place he knew of 



where he could act as he wished, drink 
what he wanted and talk to the people 
he wanted. And fight with whom he 
pleased. Turned out he had once 
planned on being a fighter until some 
rich woman heard him sing. . . . 

I was once a skip-tracer for a collec- 



tion outfit and followed a man all the 
way to Mexico City; he owed a cer- 
tain merchant fifty thousand dollars 
and had the money. And while I was 
trying to locate this skip the police of 
Mexico City thought I was an interna- 
tional agent and dogged my steps until 



one night they thought they had some- 
thing on me and clapped me in the cal- 
aboose and held me incommunicado for 
twenty-four hours before I could get in 
touch with the consulate. . . . 

But let me be even more specific. 

It began on a wondrous spring day. 



9 



10 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



Summer was not quite ready to thrust 
its heat against us, the air was warm 
and fragrant with growing things, I had 
a couple of bucks in my kick and I had 
just fallen out of love. I believe I said 
it was a wonderful day . . .? Well, I’d 
called Henry Sharpe the night before 
and we had made plans to go to Brook- 
field Zoo where the animals can come 
up close and sneer at the humans. 

“A weekday’s best,” Sharpe said as 
I slid into the seat beside him. “Sunday 
brings out the week-end nature lover 
and his camera. Besides, the animals 
aren’t quite so bored on a week-day. 
Maybe ” 

“Maybe what?” I asked. I wasn’t 
looking at him but was watching him 
get out into the traffic of La Salle 
street. 

“Nothing,” he said shortly. He was 
looking straight ahead but there was an 
odd crinkle to his forehead as though 
he were thinking of something which 
bothered him. 

* j|c * 

We parked and began the long walk 
to the animal houses. As Hank had 
predicted there weren’t many people 
about. I saw a group of school children 
herded by their teacher moving de- 
terminedly toward the aviary. But our 
paths did not converge. Sharpe is the 
fastest walking little man I’ve ever 
known. I’m not on the big side myself 
and it’s always been a problem keeping 
up with him unless I go at a half-trot. 
After some few hundred yards, I was 
getting a bit winded. 

“Hey! Take it easy. We got all day,” 
I said, panting heavily. 

“Sorry, Berk,” he said. “But it’s 
such a relief getting away from those 
damn drawings. . . . Besides, I’m anx- 
ious to see something.” 

“So am I,” I said. “But at the rate 
we’re moving I’ll need a chair to see 
them in. I’m that pooped." 



We slowed after a while to a more 
sedate run. By that time I’d given up 
the struggle and was dragging my tail 
ten feet behind Sharpe. I had been so 
busy just keeping pace with him I 
hadn’t even noticed where he had made 
his goal. I leaned my weight over the 
iron rail and looked across the moat 
to where the animals lolled in the sun. 
The scene was a rocky bit of jungle 
land. There were painted limitations of 
rocks, bushes, trees, and a small grotto 
led to the inside cages. There were some 
four of them there, great black things, 
panthers all; mama, papa and a couple 
of baby panthers which didn’t look any 
different than their parents. At least 
their teeth were no smaller when they 
yawned. 

/"\NE OF them rose and strolled to 
the edge of the moat and fell to 
his haunches and stared at us out of 
his great yellow eyes. There’s some- 
thing about the big cats, lions, tigers, 
panthers, the whole feline tribe, down 
to the smallest tabby, that reaches right 
down and pulls at the atavistic remem- 
brances of man. I felt the hair rise at 
the nape and knew my breath was 
catching as the beast looked at the two 
of us. It was as though I could reach 
through the bone and fur to that tiny 
brain and pluck out what lay there. It 
was as if he was saying, five minutes 
out there and we’d see who’d be boss. 

“That’s right, baby,” I said aloud. 
“But you’re in there and I’m out 
here. . . .” 

“Huh?” Hank whirled to me. 

I grinned and told him what I had 
been thinking of. But the grin was 
wiped from my lips at what I saw in 
his eyes. They were just wild in excite- 
ment. 

“So you heard it too,” he said. 

“Heard what?” I asked. 

“What the panther said.” 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



11 



“Now wait a minute. I didn’t hear 
anything! A picture formed in my mind 
of what the beast might be thinking if 
he could think.” 

He turned back then and looked at 
the beast. I saw that his fingers were 
white against the rail. I saw too that 
the knuckles were bloodless. Something 
was wrong. I puzzled over it then 
turned my attention to another of the 
tribe. This one I hadn’t seen before. He 
was coming out of the semi-darkness 
of the grotto into the sunlight. I gasped 
at the size of him. He was the biggest 
panther I’d ever seen, a full seven feet 
from head to tail-tip. He stalked out 
into the sunlight and stood poised, the 
only movement a sinuous twitch, of the 
black tail. I don’t know how the beast 
at the lip of the moat heard or knew 
of the other’s presence, but before our 
amazed eyes, it turned and leaped to- 
ward the other with a blood-chilling 
scream of anger. 

I heard Hank’s sibilant intake of 
breath, heard the muted, “Aah!” that 
came from his lips. But my whole at- 
tention was taken by the drama be- 
fore us. 

The giant panther waited the coming 
of the smaller one with the utmost 
equanamity. It didn’t do any more than 
face the other. Not even its tail 
twitched. Yet when the smaller one was 
but a few paces away; in fact the other 
had already leaped in a wild lunge, 
then the big beast moved. But when it 
moved it was a greased streak of black 
lightning. I have never seen anything 
move so fast. One second it was facing 
its adversary, the next it had reared 
and slashed at the bundle of charged 
dynamite which had flung itself at him. 
There was but a single blow. There 
must have been terrific power in that 
paw to do what it did. For the smaller 
beast was flung a good five yards 
through the air. It landed heavily on 



its back, rolled over and began to drag 
itself toward the other. I saw then that 
its back had been broken by the blow. 
I let a whistle escape my lips. 

There was more to come. As though 
the smaller one’s leap had been a signal 
all the others converged on the single 
monstrous thing in the center of the 
arena. Only this time the immense 
beast did not wait for the attack. It 
leaped like a bolt straight for the 
largest of its enemies. I didn’t know 
that the big cats felt or knew fear. At 
least not till then. But as the huge thing 
left its feet, the smaller one turned and 
leaped screaming for the protection of 
the grotto. And behind it came the oth- 
ers. I turned quickly to the remaining 
one. It stood facing the grotto mouth 
after it landed. There was a snarl on 
its mouth and the huge canines turned 
me cold inside. 

T COULDN’T take my eyes from the 
-*■ monster. It moved so slowly, so pre- 
meditatively. I watched it move toward 
the maimed panther which had stopped 
its futile movement and lay stretched 
full length on the ground. The big one 
approached the other at an angle. When 
it was only a few feet away it swerved 
and came in from the rear. The beast on 
the ground must have had an intuitive 
idea why because it tried to turn to face 
the enemy. Before it could complete 
the turn the big one was on him. It was 
over quickly. A single, bone-crunching 
snap of the huge jaws and life departed 
for the broken-backed panther. It was 
then the keepers appeared. 

A shuddering sigh was wrenched 
from Hank’s lips as the keepers busied 
themselves with fire hoses, used, I sup- 
posed for just such an emergency. The 
powerful streams of water hit the pan- 
ther from three sides and drove him 
snarling backward to the grotto. When 
it finally disappeared into it a gate was 



12 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



lowered. I wanted to stay and see what 
happened then. But Hank had other 
ideas. 

“No. I’ve seen enough,” he said. “Be- 
sides, I’ve got something to tell you.” 

We didn’t go far, only to the place 
where the elephants stood, great brown 
splotches against the deeper brown of 
their surroundings. Hank made sure we 
were removed from the rest of the 
crowd before he began to talk. 

“Berk, do you think I’m goofy?” he 
asked. 

“The goofiest guy I know,” I said 
with a laugh. “I’ve always said that . . 

He should have smiled. He should 
have done anything but what he did, 
grab my wrist and pull me closer to 
him. 

“Wait!” he said sharply. “I’m not 
kidding. Let me start from the begin- 
ning because that way I’ll get things 
in order. 

“In the first place you know the kind 
of guy I am about animals. Always 
traipsing off somewhere, to the Forest 
Preserve, or the dunes or some zoo or 
other. Just because I like to see the ani- 
mals, the big ones and the little ones. 
I’ve always been interested in them, as 
if there was a bond between us. You’ve 
often mentioned that I’m the only guy 
you know who can walk up to a cat, for 
instance and immediately it’ll start pur- 
ring. Or to a dog, no matter how big, 
and it’ll eat out of my hand. Well, 
something strange happened last week. 
Brookfield opened then for the summer. 
Of course I was one of the first to get 
here. 

“Well, through the years I’ve become 
pretty well-known out here and they 
let me have my run of the place. So the 
first thing happens, Joe Edson, the head 
keeper grabs me and drags me up to the 
big cat house. Takes me up to the pan- 
ther cage and says: 

“ ‘Look, Hank.’ 



“Look at what?” I asked. 

“ ‘The size of that cat.’ ” 

“Berk, it was the biggest cat I’ve 
ever seen. Now get this. Panthers are 
the smallest of the big cats. They’re 
really small lions. But this baby, the 
same one we just saw was bigger than 
even the biggest lion. But it was a pan- 
ther. It was a panther but for one thing, 
its canines. They were those of a tiger. 
Bigger, longer, Berk, than any tiger’s.” 

I was following him pretty good. So 
far he hadn’t said anything to warrant 
the state of excitement he was in. But I 
hadn’t heard everything. 

He went on : 

“Ed got a call from one of the keepers 
just then and I was left alone. The cat 
was in a far corner. Soon as Ed left the 
cat got up and moved close to the bars 
and faced me. He looked at me with 
those devil’s eyes of his and his lips 
parted in a grin. Damn! It was almost 
human, that grin. I wondered where 
they got such a magnificent animal. . . . 
Berk! I swear to God, this is what hap- 
pened. The cat said, ‘You wouldn’t be- 
lieve it if it were told to you.’ ” 

T KNOW I was smiling when he said 
what he did. And I know the smile 
was still on my face as I turned and 
looked him full in the eyes. But a cold 
rope dragged itself down my spine and 
of a sudden my hands felt clammy with 
sweat. He must have seen something of 
what went on in my mind because he 
went on quickly: 

“Yeah! Sounds goofy. Really insane. 
But true. As I stand here with you, it’s 
the truth. And there’s even more. I guess 
I just stared at the damned cat. Sud- 
denly it moved back and forth against 
the bars in that sinuous walk only cats 
have. After a few turns it came back 
and faced me again. It was just as 
though its mind was troubled and the 
turns it took enabled it to clear its mind 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



13 



for what it wanted to say. ‘She brought 
me here to prove something. But now 
I’m in this prison and only she can get 
me out. You must help me. . . 

“There were words trembling on my 
lips but they simply wouldn’t pass. I 
was speechless. Yet he read my mind. 
For he answered the words which had 
formed in me. ‘You are the only person 
on this planet who can help me. Project 
your thoughts into the great void. Call, 
Luria. . . . And when the answer comes, 
say that Mokar believes. . . .’ 

“I guess I was in a sort of mental fog 
for a while after that because the next 
remembrance was of my studio. I sort 
of came out of the trance I was in and 
found myself on the couch. I know that 
I had left the zoo and driven back to 
fhe studio; I must have! Anyway, the 
first thought in my mind was what Mo- 
kar had said. I did it. . . .” 

“Did what, Hank?” I breathed softly. 
“Called to this Luria.” 

“And . . .?” 

“She not only answered, she came to 
me. Not in flesh,” he hastily assured me. 
“It was a sort of picture I got of her. 
Oh, man! What a picture though. I deal 
in beauty. Now and then we run across 
some beautiful models. But this Luria 
. . . Out of this world is the only way to 
describe her. Her skin was white as the 
proverbial snow and yet it had an odd 
pinkish glow to it. Her hair was mid- 
night and it sparkled as though a mil- 
lion snow flakes were reflecting light 
from it. She wore a breastplate which 
concealed her charms yet barely cov- 
ered the swelling flesh so that my breath 
was taken from me. Below the plate she 
was bare to her loins which again were 
covered by a leather belt from which 
dangled a jeweled dagger. In her hand, 
the right one, she carried a spear with 
an immense blade, slim, and murderous 
looking. 

“She was clothed in mist which 



swirled and eddied about her. Because 
of this strange mist the picture was none 
too clear except in glimpses. But the 
oddest part of the whole scene was a 
something that lurked in the back- 
ground. Lurked is the only word for it. 
It was never clear at all. I got the feel- 
ing of a long body, wetly metallic-look- 
ing and covered by a serrated series of 
spines. But as I say, I’m not sure. May- 
be that was the proof of my halluci- 
nated state.” 

I released my breath in a sigh and 
said: 

“The wrong one of us is writing. I’d 
say this dame brought out the poet in 
you, Hank. Never have I heard a 
woman described so. Now look . . .” 

“I was sober. More sober than at any 
time of my life,” he said, as though he 
knew what I was going to say. “But let 
me finish. The message of Mokar came 
to my mind and I saw her lips smile. 
They formed words and across the 
misty dimness came the answer, “Tell 
Mokar I shall come for him soon.” He 
hesitated for an instant, open and closed 
his mouth and finally said nothing. 

“And that’s the last you’ve ever heard 
of or seen the beautiful dream gal, Lu- 
ria?” I said. 

He shook his head, yes. 

J DIDN’T know what to say. Hank 
Sharpe was my dearest friend. He 
was a mixture of the strangest things, 
for at one and the same time he was the 
most hard-headed, clear-thinking man 
I’d ever known; and at the same time 
the world’s greatest romanticist. He 
spoke of the evil of man with a knowing 
look. Yet he could not believe evil of 
anyone. He was as small as I and even 
thinner, and no one has ever called me, 
big-boy, but he was as strong as a horse 
with hands that were like a carpenter’s, 
tough and muscular. I’ve seen him slap 
a guy and send the guy all the way 



14 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



across a tavern floor with that slap. He 
had a head that was bit too large for 
the rest of him, with a face that was 
long and lean and handsome. And there 
was nothing I wouldn’t do for the guy. 
. . . But this deal he was talking of 
sounded like a hashish dream. 

It couldn’t be, though. 

There might be a way of finding out, 
I thought of a sudden. “Look, Hank,” 
I said. “Let’s mosey over to the cat 
house. I want to see something.” 

There was quite a crowd on the out- 
side. Evidently the word of the fight 
had spread and they had gathered to 
see what there was to be seen. There 
wasn’t much. What blood had flowed 
had been washed clean by the hoses. 
Of the cats nothing was to be seen. We 
strolled around and walked into the 
huge place. It was apparent which cage 
the panthers were in by the crowd 
watching. We joined the others. 

Being on the small side we edged our 
way through the crowd until we stood 
against the iron railing which separated 
the cages from the spectators: The an- 
imals in the cage were restless. Whether 
it was the fight which had made them 
so or something else, they paced back 
and forth, growls rumbling deep in their 
throats and sometimes coming past the 
furry pockets. Oddly enough, the larg- 
est and most ferocious, the huge jet- 
black beast whose name was Mokar, 
was the least restive. He lolled at his 
ease on the shelf which they used for 
resting and sleeping. 

He was lying there until he spotted 
us. Then with an immense and effortless 
leap he was at the bars, his great yellow 
eyes searching our faces. Suddenly it 
happened. I swear Mokar smiled. Those 
fearsome lips parted in a huge cat’s grin. 
And Hank turned to me and said: 
“Let’s go. He understood.” 

It was just too much for me. I shook 
my head and started to follow Hank. 



But I hadn’t done more than make a 
half-turn when he gripped my forearm 
so hard I yipped in pain. 

“It’s her,” he whispered in a voice 
of awe. 

Like a flash I followed the direction 
of his eyes and beheld her. I knew it 
was her. Yet she was like night and day 
as far as accuracy of description. Only 
in the small wave of hair which peeked 
beneath the hood of her coat was there 
something of what he’d described, the 
hair whose blackness held the sheen of 
a million reflected snowflakes. Her skin 
too was as he said. But that face! It 
was the face of a million men’s dreams. 
So alluring, so innocent, eyes that 
begged for love, and knew only virtue, 
lips whose redness made one hungry for 
their touch, and a skin that was like a 
flower petal. I felt my fingers contract 
in a spasm, as though they had a will 
to fly toward that loveliness for a 
caress. 

“Your friend likes me,” the girl said. 

She had spoken and in perfectly un- 
derstandable English. 

“I’m glad,” she went on. “Mokar will 
be too.” 

“He will?” I said. 

“But of course. He has learned his 
lesson and I have found what I looked 
for. Now we will go out of this place of 
prison into the clean air. Come!” 

JT WAS a command. And we fol- 
lowed. She led us directly to one 
of the open-air confectionery stands. 
She walked up and ordered an ice cream 
cone. I reached for the dime automat- 
ically. But Hank ordered two more and 
paid for them. She turned and walked 
to a bench close by. We followed as if 
we were tied to her by a string. So we 
sat, the three of us, munching on our 
cones until the last of them were licked 
up. All the while she sat and stared at 
anything and everything but us. 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



15 



She sighed breathless after a while 
and still looking straight ahead, said: 

“It is good not to be alone. Poor 
Mokar. He missed me and could not 
get through the valley of the mists to 
me. Luckily he found you, my friend.” 

Hank is a slow-acting guy most of 
the time. Then again he acts with the 
speed of a fighter throwing a counter 
punch. This was one of those times. 
Suddenly his hands imprisoned hers 
and he was facing her. 

“Uh, huh,” Hank said. “That’s right. 
He found me and you found me. So that 
makes everything just right. But where 
does it leave me?” 

She was innocence itself. “How do 
you mean?” 

“Who are you? Where do you come 
from? What’s this all about, this busi- 
ness with Mokar ; how did you manage 
to hypnotize me into the dream I had?” 
Hank shook her hands imprisoned in 
his for emphasis. 

She didn’t answer immediately but 
looked down at her hands which were 
beginning to show a redness from the 
tightness of his grip. Hank flushed and 
released her hands. She threw back her 
head in an odd gesture and the hood fell 
away from those beautiful tresses which 
fell in a wonderfully effective wave 
about her shoulders. Even I, who can 
take my women or leave them alone, 
felt a thrill at the sight. 

“I am Luria,” she said. “You know 
that. And I come from the valley of the 
mists. . . 

“You come in dreams,” Hank said. 
“In dreams of mist and terror.” 

I gaped at the man. What the heck 
had gotten into him? He had turned so 
that his profile was to us. This time it 
was she who took the initiative. She 
took hold of his hands and began to 
talk: 

“I came to you across the great void. 
It was hard for I was already here and 



I had to transpose my soul-self back to 
the place from whence I’d come. There 
is no other but you who can understand 
me. Yet we live side by side. Our worlds 
are the same. The same in the same 
time. Will you come back with me and 
live in this side-by-side world? The time 
has come when I have need of you. . . .” 

“Wait a minute, Hank!” I broke in 
before he could give this girl an answer. 
“Don’t listen to her. It’s some sort of 
gimmick she’s got that’s working you. 
I don’t trust her.” 

“I do, Berk,” he said. “I know she’s 
in trouble. I guess I knew it, from the 
beginning. And I want you to come 
along with us.” 

“Oh boy!” I chortled in simulated 
glee. “Ain’t that going to be just ducky. 
Come on along and play, he says. And 
how do we do that? Hold hands across 
a table while the lights are out and wait 
for the message?" 

“You’re not scared, are you?” he 
asked. 

“Now we’re playing kid games,” I 
said. “I dare you . . 

j-JE TURNED again so that he was 
facing her. “Is it possible to bring 
my friend along?” 

She nodded. The wrinkle went out of 
his forehead and a smile lighted his 
face. He got up and stepped in front 
of me. 

“Well?” he asked. 

“Well what?” I was mad. Yet at the 
same time I felt a thrill of excitement. 
If, I thought, if such a thing could be, 
why I could write of it later. Fame and 
fortune could be waiting for me at the 
end of the trail. But what the heck were 
we dreaming of? The whole thing was a 
lot of talk. Dream stuff and coincidence. 
I snorted loudly. Hank turned back to 
her and said: 

“See. IPs my personal charm. He 
can’t resist it. It’s because I smoke 



16 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



Regents. They give off that wonderful 
aroma and make me nonchalant. Also 
an outcast. Berk smells that way nat- 
urally.” 

“Mokar will be glad,” she says. “He 
likes your friend.” 

“Yeah?” I said, quick-like. “Well, I 
like him too. Just where he’s at, behind 
bars.” 

“Oh,” she said just as quickly. “He 
won’t be for very long. When you get 
to know him better you’ll grow much 
more fond of him. He’s so affectionate.” 

“Then he and Hank’ll get along swell. 
Hank’s an animal lover. Now why 
couldn’t he have been crazy about fish? 
I’ve always been wild about mermaids,” 
I said. 

Hank hummed a bit about, “wild 
about Nellie.” I was too far from him 
to get in a kick at his shins. Suddenly 
she rose. It was a movement that was 
as lithe and sinuous as an animal’s. Her 
fingers threw the hood back around her 
hair. Hank started to join her but she 
shook her head. 

“No. I must go alone . . she said. 

“But how . . .?” 

She knew what he meant. “I will 
come to you when the time comes,” she 
said. “Nor will it be long.” 

I covered a grin. Now she was cook- 
ing with butane. So she was going to 
come when the time was ripe. I figured 
we’d better not hold our breaths that 
long. We’d probably be ripe too. 

But Hank was all trust and hope. He 
acted like a kid with the promise of a 
day at the circus before him. His eyes 
were shining in anticipation of the day. 
Man alive! You’d think he was ten in- 
stead of thirty. His eyes followed her 
trim, but very trim, figure until it dis- 
appeared into the big cat house. 

“Okay kid,” I said. “You can wake 
up. Dream’s over.” 

His lips were bent in a crooked grin 
but his eyes were dark in some inner 



thought which was extremely pleasant. 

. . Not yet,” he said after a mo- 
ment. 

JT WAS some day in the week, I 

think Tuesday; at any rate it wasn’t 
long after our visit to the zoo, that I got 
a phone call from Hank. I was busy on 
a fantasy for Fantastic Adventures 
that had to do with flying disks and I 
wanted to get some of the facts in order. 
I had a fistful of clippings on my desk, 
a cigarette burning itself to death in the 
ashtray, and a brow full of wrinkles on 
my forehead. The phone at my side rang 
and I cussed it as I lifted it from the 
cradle. 

“Yeah!” 

“Berk!” Hank’s voice crackled in ex- 
citement. “Come on over. But fast!” 

Oh fine, I thought. He’s been dream- 
ing again. Then another thought pierced 
me through. Maybe . . .? 

“You mean . . .?” I began. 

“Right. Drop what you’re doing and 
shoot out here.” 

“But look,” I began. There was no 
need to go on, unless I wanted to talk 
to myself. He’d hung up. Believe me I 
was in just that mood, talking to myself, 
I mean. The disk story had to be on the 
editor’s desk by Friday. And I had a 
good six thousand words to do on it yet. 
The air was blue with nasty words as I 
shoved the chair away from the desk 
and put the old money-machine away. 
Now why did Hank have to dream, I 
thought as I put on a pair of slacks! I 
work in shorts and nothing else. A tee 
shirt followed the slacks and then socks 
and shoes. I gave the desk a look of 
regret as I turned for a last look before 
closing the door. It was going to be a 
long time before I saw that desk or 
room again. 

Hank shared a loft studio on north 
State Street with a couple of other 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



17 



artists. He was alone, sitting before his 
work desk. There was a half-finished 
pen and ink drawing on the board. He 
heard my clattering steps on the rickety 
stairs and met me at the door. He 
grabbed my wrist and dragged me into 
his part of the studio. 

“Last night,” he began without pre- 
amble. “She came to me. She said she 
would see me again this afternoon. She 
was in trouble. I saw it in her face. I’ve 
got to help her. Berk, u>e’i>e-got to help 
her.” 

I tried to throw some cold water on 
him. The whole deal had lost its appeal 
to me. What the heckl I had this story 
to do for the boss and besides ... I 
found a seat among the magazines on 
a chair and said: 

“Now listen to me, Hank. I’m seri- 
ous. I went along with this dream-book 
stuff you gave me because I thought it 
was some kind of a gag. I didn’t know 
it was serious. But if it is you’d better 
see a psychiatrist. Hallucinations may 
be all right until they reach the stage 
where a man can’t tell them from 
reality. 

“I guess it’s time we talked this thing 
over seriously. I don’t know how it be- 
gan but I can hazard a guess. I’ll bet 
you went to a party with some of those 
wacky friends of yours and there was 
a hypnotist there. And so the gag was 
for him to use you as a guinea pig. I’ll 
bet there was this gal we met, at the 
party. The idea being to see how far 
post-hypnotism would work. I’ve got to 
hand it to the lad who did the hynotiz- 
ing. He did an A-l Job.” 

“Uh uh,” Hank said. “You’re wrong. 
You’re . . .” 

We both noticed it at the same time. 
All of a sudden there was a terrific 
breeze in the room. I started to close 
the window, only I didn’t make it. It 
was as if someone had glued me to the 
chair I was in. I could see, hear, smell, 



reason, but couldn’t act. I was aware of 
what was going on only I seemed not 
to be part of it. 

I say there was a great gust of blow- 
ing in the room. Yet not a paper stirred, 
not a leaf in the magazines turned. In 
fact not a material thing felt the wind’s 
effect except Hank and myself. I saw 
his hair blowing about his face, saw his 
shirt collar flap against his chin and 
knew the same thing was happening to 
me. I was turned three-quarters to the 
window and though I couldn’t turn 
completely I saw that not a leaf stirred 
on a tree directly outside the window. 
Not a bit of dust blew. And I even saw 
a man mop his brow below us. The wind 
increased and with it came a cloud of 
darkness. It’s the only way I can de- 
scribe it. It was a mist of inky black- 
ness and it flowed up from out of no- 
where. I tried to move out of its path. 
I could feel my muscles strain as I did 
my utmost to lift myself from its path 
as it rolled toward Hank and me. But 
though the sweat stood out on my fore- 
head in huge damp drops and rolled 
down my arms and chest, all my efforts 
were unavailing. The black curtain en- 
veloped us. It not only encircled us so 
that nothing was to be seen beyond it, 
it also did something to our minds. For 
suddenly all was darkness. 

'"pHERE was a dull feeling at the 
back of my head. And my neck felt 
stiff. I opened my eyes and looked 
blankly about me. We were both still 
sitting as we had been. Hank looked 
asleep. I shook my head and instantly 
realized the spell or whatever it was 
was gone. 

“Hey! Hank! Wake up fella.” 

As I called to him I rose from my 
chair. I groaned aloud as every bone in 
my body ached with the effort. My 
words seemed to have no effect. I stag- 
gered a bit in the few feet which sep- 



18 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



9UEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



19 




The monstrous beasts were coming at ut 
with the speed of express trains, and 
the riders were shouting in triumph . . . 



arated us. My hand had little life in it 
as it shook him weakly. But it was 
enough. His eyes opened and looked 
dazedly about him. Then they began to 
focus and reason returned to their 
depths. The old grin appeared on them 
and he said: 

“Well? What do you say now?” 

I blew out my breath and sighed. Was 
nothing going to convince him? But of 
course. All he had to do was see the out- 
side. I whirled and pointing through the 
glass, said: 

“Lo-oo — yeow! ” 

The last was a screech of horror. This 



wasn’t State Street. This wasn’t Chi- 
cago. This wasn’t anything I’d ever 
seen. This was Hell! 

We were no longer three flights up. 
We were at ground level. And what 
ground. It looked like some cataclysm 
of nature had ripped and twisted the 
ground in a mad convulsion. It was bare 
of foliage and brown and hard with 
huge boulders strewn about as if giants 
had been rolling them in a game of 
bowls. We seemed to be in a sort of 
hollow, like the bottom of a soup plate. 
I couldn't see what lay beyond the lip 
of the bowl. Hank must have seen the 




20 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



terror and bewilderment in my eyes. He 
rose and stepped to my side. 

‘Holy cats!” he breathed softly. 

“I could think of other things,” I 
said. “All appropriate to the land- 
scape.” 

“Save it!” he said sharply. “Let’s 
take a look around.” 

Too anxious I wasn’t to see what there 
was to be seen. But I wouldn’t have 
stayed alone in the room for all the tea 
in China. Matter of fact I hoped we 
were in China. But at the pit of my 
stomach was a feeling we weren’t in 
China. It was the kind of feeling which 
said, brother, you’re in the next place 
to where you’ve always said you’re 
going. 

If Hank had any fears they were 
well concealed. He moved along, head 
up and shoulders back like he knew ex- 
actly where he was going. My steps 
lagged but only a few yards behind his. 
We climbed the few feet to the lip of 
the earthen bowl and looked about. I 
know my mouth hung open and that to 
anyone who might have been looking 
on I played the part of an idiot very 
well. At least I had company. 

' I ' HE ground fell away below our 
feet steeply for a distance of per- 
haps a thousand feet. Below us lay a 
sight to gladden the heart of any farmer. 
The ground was checkerboarded in neat 
patterns that sometimes were squares 
and sometimes rectangles and some- 
times even triangles of color. There 
were trees, heavy-planted like park- 
lands and we could see areas which 
looked dark with luxurious growth. The 
air was warm and fragrant and peace- 
ful. It was a placid scene. 

But only for a moment. 

Immediately below us the ground was 
sheer. But to either side the slope was 
gradual. Suddenly there was a great 
snorting chorus of animal sounds to our 



right and we turned as one to see what 
made them. I’ve been scared before. 
But this was the first time I’d ever been 
so frightened that I knew what it was 
to be rooted to one spot. 

Coming up at us with the speed of 
express trains were some ten or fifteen 
animals the likes of which I’d never 
seen. They were part lizard and part 
elk. There was the head of an elk 
mounted on a lizard’s body. But such a 
lizard as I didn’t believe existed. I 
didn’t wait for Hank’s shout of warn- 
ing. I had already turned and started 
downward for the place we had just 
quitted. But my terror rose to a fevered 
pitch when I saw that there was noth- 
ing there. The room or vehicle of trans- 
port into this strange and terrible world 
had disappeared. There was nothing 
but the convulsed earth and boulders. 

It wouldn’t have made any difference 
anyway. These monstrous beasts were 
too swift. 

Now there was the sounds of voices 
about us, English voices; commands to 
halt, shouts of anger and some of specu- 
lation. Then above the others, a bull- 
like bellow: 

“Stop, fools. Stop ere we rip you 
apart!” 

We came to a sliding stop and side 
by side waited for, I guess, death. The 
beasts ground to dust-clouded stops. 
Then as their riders dismounted they 
looked at us through their soft strangely 
gentle eyes. But there was nothing 
peaceful or gentle in the eyes or faces 
of the men who surrounded us. Oh no! 
They looked fierce and very unwel- 
coming. 

I essayed a grin and swallowed 
hastily as the first of them came close. 
Beside me Hank’s breath whistled 
shrilly as he tensed in anticipation of 
battle. Not that we stood any chance if 
there was going to be. Not with the way 
these babies were adorned. 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



21 



Insofar as size was concerned they 
looked no bigger than most men from 
where we’d come. Nor were they any 
different in facial or physical charac- 
teristics, except maybe in fierceness 
of looks. It was just their get-up. 
They wore little helmets, serrated and 
adorned with a strip of feather. Their 
chests were covered by a wide strip of 
metal leaving their bellies bare. They 
wore gauntlets of the same metal and 
their legs were also covered to some 
three inches above their knees. The 
metal was very flexible because it gave 
as they walked. From their waists to 
where the leg covering began was a 
kind of link-metal skirt. It rang metal- 
lically as they moved about. There was 
a belt of leather about their waists. 
From it hung, on one side a dagger, and 
on the other a sword. 

“Who are you? From whence come 
you?” asked one who was evidently the 
leader. He was the biggest and certainly 
looked the most fierce, a scar which ran 
the length of one cheek to his chin, giv- 
ing him the most terrifying look. 

My mouth opened and closed, opened 
and closed but no sound came out. It 
was Hank who took the lead: 

“I am Henry Sharpe. And this is 
Berkeley Livingston,” he said. “We 
come from — from Chicago,” he ended 
weakly. 

I knew how he felt. But what the 
devil were we to say to those questions. 

r T' HE leader of this strange troop 
A mulled the words over to himself 
as though they were some strange food 
he was tasting. His eyes were on the 
ground as he mumbled to himself. Sud- 
denly they lifted and pierced us with 
their fiery glance. I felt my knees turn 
to water at that uncompromising stare. 
I knew I was too young to die. 

“Of this place from whence you come 
I have no knowledge,” the big guy said. 



“Perhaps Loko may have. He is all- 
wise. Mount these men and let us be 
off before we are discovered. We are 
still a long way from home.” 

Immediately his men began a tune- 
less whistling at which their strange 
mounts came trotting. One of them gave 
me a hand and I slid up until I sat just 
outside the pocket of the flat saddle 
they used. Hank too was lifted to the 
back of one of the elk-lizard deals and 
in an instant we were off. Apd I mean 
off and running. Man oh man! How 
those babies could travel! They’d have 
walked off with all honors at any track 
in the U. S. 

I don’t know exactly how long we 
rode. Time had no meaning. Ourwatches 
had stopped. The sun stood at the 
zenith all the time. All I know is that 
my back was sore, my legs were numb 
and that this character behind whom 
I was riding had never taken a bath in 
his life. The only thing which held 
meaning for me was the changes in 
scenery. For perhaps a mile after we 
started, the road or path or whatever 
it was we followed was level and flat. 
Then we came to a forest land into 
which we rode with the same abandon 
as before. The trees were thick and 
the branches often swept low so that 
I was continually ducking to stop from 
being swept off my mount. This went 
on for hours, it seemed. Then we were 
in the open again. But the topogra- 
phy had changed. The gentle slopes 
were gone. This was hill country, rough 
and a little frightening. We didn’t ride 
directly upward but at a long slant. I 
didn’t notice at first but later I did that 
we always rode where there was some 
sort of shelter. The open places were 
avoided with assiduous care. 

My fears lessened or dulled, as the 
ride went on interminably, and I looked 
about with more appraising glances. For 
a land which held the appearances of 



22 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



care there were less people about than 
I would imagine there to be. Since the 
sun was always at zenith, time had 
little meaning, at least in the sense we 
have of time. This might be the time for 
sleep or dinner or lunch or breakfast 
for all I knew. At least they were rea- 
sons for the lack of activity in this 
weird place of ever-sunlight. 

Suddenly I was hungry. But I mean 
hungry. It wasn’t just a gnawing feel- 
ing. It was a flood of demands for food. 
My rider was in the center of the troop. 
Hank was up ahead somewhere not far 
from the leader. I was too far back to 
see the gesture which was the command 
to halt but there came shouted words 
from ahead: 

“Halt! Eat. Eat ” 

My rider kicked with his right heel at 
the leathery side of the beast we were 
riding and the monster slid to a halt. 
We slid off and joined the rest. I was 
stiff and sore as I found a seat beside 
Hank on a grassy hummock. There was 
a far-away look in his eyes and it wasn’t 
one of hunger. For once my interest was 
not on his thoughts or mood. I was 
hungry. 

T GUESS I looked my disgust when 
I saw the meal we were to have. It 
came from saddle bags which were at- 
tached to the animals we had been rid- 
ing. My buddy strode up to me and 
held the unappetizing piece of leathery 
whatever-it-was in his hand. 

“Well, bless your little,” I said. 
“That’s decent of you, old man, I must 
say.” 

He had a half smile on his lips as he 
stood there with the stuff in his hand. At 
my words the smile went away, but fast, 
and his free hand shot out and cuffed 
me alongside the jaw. 

“I am not an old man!” he said in 
vicious tones. 

Now, I’m a peace-loving individual. 



The sort of guy, in fact, who will not 
just walk away from trouble, I’ll run 
from it. Comes a tavern brawl and I’m 
the first to head for under the table. In 
an argument I’m the oil-spreader. So 
maybe it was that I was hungry and 
tired and sore. Or maybe I was guttier 
than I thought. But suddenly before I 
could reason I was on my feet and at 
this character. 

I hit him with a left and right and 
another left and right, all on the puss. 
Then I shot one to his belly and he 
folded up like a wind-broken accordion. 
A last right, this one on the button, and 
he spun away for about ten feet to land 
flat on his back. 

It all happened pretty fast. Faster 
than the telling of it. What happened 
after was just as quick. Instantly, the 
rest of these characters came at a run, 
the big guy who was boss-man at their 
head. He looked down at schmoe on the 
grass looking up at the blue, with va- 
cant eyes, then looked at me. There was 
a puzzled glint to his eyes. 

“What happened?” he asked. 

I was surprised at the politeness of 
tone. 

“I don’t go for slapping around,” I 
said. 

“No? I must tell you then,” he said 
in that same polite tone, “that certain 
formalities must be observed. As soon as 
Hago has recovered his senses he will 
ask for reprisals. It is the custom here, 
my friend.” 

“Yeah!” Hank said sharply, as only 
a Sharpe can ask. “And what will those 
be?” 

“Edged with tips of steel of course,” 
the big guy said casually. 

“Hey!” Hank said angrily. “Berk 
doesn’t know anything about duelling 
with swords.” 

Nor about duelling with anything else 
but my mouth, I thought. Maybe we 
could fight a duel that way. Of course 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



23 



I hadn’t done badly with my fists . . . 

The big guy shrugged his shoulders 
and all the metal he carried clanked an 
accompaniment. Hank brought up an- 
other point: 

“Besides, Berk doesn’t have the pro- 
tection of armor.” 

“Then it will be over quickly,” the 
big goon said. 

Suddenly Hank grinned. A fine time 
to smile, I thought. I was going to die, 
and Ray Palmer wasn’t going to get 
that story after all, and all Sharpe the 
sharpy can do is laugh about it. My 
bosom buddy. My pal. Hank, I thought, 
if ever you ask me to listen to one of 
those corny jokes you like to tell, I’ll 
throw Joe Miller down your throat. 

“And what of Loko?” Hank asked. 
“Won’t he be angry?” 

The big guy stroked the scar on his 
cheek. He nodded several times as 
though in agreement with what Hank 
had brought up. Then he too smiled and 
I thought; Hank, bosom buddy, you’re 
a prince. With the wit you’re fast like 
a rabbit. Now why didn’t I think of 
that?” 

“Yes. Loko would be angry, espe- 
cially if he knew there had been two of 
you and I brought only one in. . . .” 

B OTH Hank and I stopped smiling. 

The familiar chill found its groove 
and raced down my spine. I didn’t need 
an interpretation of what he said. In 
effect, the less Loko knew the less he 
would be angry about. 

The rest of the gang, with the excep- 
tion of Hago, had gathered around 
while the palavar had been going on. 
They ringed us in with a fence of steel 
for their swords were out. I looked from 
face to face and found nothing in any 
to give me hope of the future. I swal- 
lowed the lump which formed in my 
throat and wished I could be brave and 
come up with the kind of quip the usual 



story-book hero had in a moment like 
this. Blank. That was my mind. 

But not Hank’s. Oh, no. He had 
things to say. I wished he hadn’t. 
Seemed like every time he opened his 
yap trouble came out. 

“Is this how you welcome strangers?” 
he asked. 

If nothing else the big guy liked to 
chew the fat! 

“Strangers are never welcome here on 
Hosay. They are always troublesome. 
This way our troubles, and yours, in- 
cidently, will soon be over, and the path 
of our lives will be smooth again.” 

“We didn’t ask to come here,” Hank 
said. 

That was a lie but at this point of 
the game I didn’t think it made any 
difference. 

“No-o? Then how did you come?” 

“Luria made us,” Hank said. 

By all that was holy, I’d forgotten 
about the gorgeous doll who had 
brought us this trouble. I remembered 
now and blessed her with a few choice 
epithets, none of which would look nice 
in print. 

“Luria 1” his voice rose until it al- 
most sounded feminine. “She brought 
you across the void? Ho-ho! Loko will 
surely want to see you. Well, Hago can 
wait his vengeance for a bit. I don’t 
think you will be leaving Hosay very 
soon. . . . Well, we’ve spent enough time 
in talk. Let us eat and be off again.” 

Funny how my appetite got lost. I 
took maybe two bites out of the leathery 
stuff. But even though I’d lost my hun- 
ger I had to admit to the tastiness of 
the stuff. Then we were back in the 
saddle and riding hell-bent for wherever 
they were going. Whether my muscles 
had grown used to the gruelling pace or 
just that I’d grown numb I don’t know. 
But now I didn’t feel so weary. So that 
in the end when we topped a rise and 
came to the valley which held the tribe 



24 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



of Loko, I felt an odd sense of aware- 
ness of things. 

I say it was a valley. Actually it 
wasn’t. But on first appearance it 
seemed that. Rather to be proper it was 
a plain which stretched for a vast dis- 
tance and which lay between two ranges 
of hills that were not quite high enough 
to be called mountains. As we rode 
down the shallow pass which led to the 
city I speculated on the familiarity of 
the place. As we got closer I knew what 
the resemblance was. It looked like the 
stretch of pueblos in Taos, New Mex- 
ico. Of course there was the differ- 
ence of soil conditions and mountain 
stretches. But I’m speaking of the habi- 
tations. Our coming had been noticed 
long before our arrival and a great num- 
ber of riders came dashing out to meet 
us, all mounted on the elk-lizards. 

They yelled, shouted and waved their 
swords about as they closed in on our 
small company. Pandemonium is a long 
word, but it’s the only one which fit the 
situation. We must have stretched out 
for a good mile as we rode down the 
long street between the pueblos until 
we reached the most imposing, one that 
was a good five stories high. 

This one was different from the rest 
in that instead of the ladder it had a 
broad staircase which circled about the 
entire structure. Then, while the others 
waited, Hank and I, between several 
guards, mounted the staiicase and pro- 
ceeded upward behind the big guy who 
was the leader of the troop. 

A T THE fifth story we came to a 
' rv broad gate. There were armed sen- 
tries standing guard before it. Through 
the open lattice-work of iron I could see 
other men standing watch. Whoever 
Loko was he liked protection. The big 
guy exchanged words with the guards, 
who in turn called something to those 
inside and the gates swung open. There 



was something ominous in the way those 
huge iron things closed behind us. 

Once more we went on the march. We 
had come into a shallow courtyard. 
Birds of brilliant plumage sang from 
trees. The courtyard was circular with 
several entrances to the building we had 
as our goal. The center entrance was 
for us. Straight for it and into the cool- 
ness of a vast room where all was peace 
the big guy led us. Here we came to a 
halt. I looked about and wondered why 
we stopped here. The room had but a 
single entrance or exit, the doorway 
through which we’d come. The answer 
came in a few seconds. 

Suddenly we started to rise, all of us. 
And I knew we were on a sort of plat- 
form much like that of a stage. It was 
then I saw the openings high in the 
walls above. There were three, quite 
large. When we reached the level of 
these openings the platform stopped its 
ascent, and once more we stepped for- 
ward. Again it was the center opening 
which was our goal. This too had guards 
and after the usual exchange of talk we 
were allowed entry. 

It was a long rectangular room in 
which we found ourselves. At one end 
was a dais on which was a long table. 
There were six men sitting at this table. 
The walls of the room to either side of 
the dais held couches and seats. The 
room was empty but for the men up 
ahead. We were led forward until we 
stopped some fifteen feet from the dais. 
Then the big guy stepped forward. 

“Mighty Loko,” he began. “I am 
Captain Mita, in charge of the group 
who went in search of the holy Groana 
bird. I have come before your greatness 
with a strange story . . .” 

All the while I’d been giving this 
Loko character the once-over. I didn’t 
know he was Loko until Mita called him 
by name. But he was the sort of person 
you give a second and even a third 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



25 



glance. The trouble was I didn’t look 
at the rest. Not until Hank nudged me 
and whispered from the side of his 
mouth: 

“The women! Look at them.” 

It was small wonder that I hadn’t 
noticed them. As I said, I thought there 
were six men up there in front of us. 
They were all dressed alike except 
Loko. Their uniforms were much like 
Mita’s except they were more elaborate 
with jewels sending showers of vari- 
colored lights at us. Then I saw the 
breastplates and realized for the first 
time that of the six people up there four 
were women. 

The fifth was a giant of a man, easily, 
even though he was seated, better than 
seven feet tall. The sixth was Loko. He 
was dressed in a toga-like gown which 
fell in a straight line from his thin wrin- 
kled neck to his feet. From the center of 
the toga straight down the center was a 
line of color demarcation. One side of 
the robe was a bright purple, the other 
a deep green. Then Loko started to talk, 
and I forgot all else: 

“Who are these two? From whence 
come they? And how did you come upon 
them?” 

/"'iAPTAIN MITA related how he 
found us. All went well until he 
mentioned Luria. I thought they’d leap 
down our collective throats so great was 
their excitement. All but Loko. His lean 
face didn’t show a muscle change and 
his eyes peered narrowly down at us 
as though their piercing glance could 
read what lay beneath the flesh and 
bone of our foreheads. Their voices rose 
in shrill cacophony, the gist of which 
was we ought to be put to death imme- 
diately. Suddenly Loko raised a thin 
arm which shook slightly. 

“Peace! This chattering, as though 
you were but birds in the courtyard to 
whom had been cast seed. Peace, I say! 



“Are your minds so dulled by the 
games of war that they see only what 
lies on the surface? Look ye well on 
these strangers. Do they have the look 
of any men we know? They have not 
spoken their minds yet but I’ll warrant 
their speech is foreign as their attire. 
They knew not of swordplay. One used 
his fists as a weapon. But all this non- 
observance can be forgiven. It is in the 
misconstruing of the fact they knew 
Luria that I speak. Let me assure ye 
they are accidental arrivals here on 
Pola. There are some things which are 
as open pages to us. But the art of trans- 
posing humans from one plane of time 
to another is the closed page which not 
one of us can open, for we have not the 
key. Not even Luria, the all-wise 
woman. 

“Oman, the father of Luria, was the 
wisest man who ever lived. The small 
knowledge I have was gained at his 
knee. But even he, with all the secrets 
of the ancients at his mind’s disposal 
could not do that. I do not say that she, 
in some fashion known only to her, was 
able to bring them across the great void 
between the land of the eternal mists, 
from the place from whence they came 
to Pola. But only these two came. 

“I do not know who they are or why 
they were brought here, but look ye well 
on them. Can ye see the smallest sign 
in them which would bring harm to us 
or disturb the smallest detail of our 
plan?” 

The old character was right. We were 
a couple of harmless schmoes. As far as 
I was concerned I had had my fill of this 
place. All I wanted was to be put back 
on that black cloud and taken back to 
that place, ‘from whence we’d come.’ 

“However,” he went on, “it would be 
of great interest to us to find how, where 
and when Luria managed all this. Shall 
we ask them?” 

Mita’s boys acted too fast for us to 



26 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



do anything about it. They were well- 
trained. Loko had barely finished talk- 
ing and our arms were pinioned behind 
our backs. I started to struggle but gave 
up as the guard’s arms tightened about 
me. Yet a strange fact registered at the 
back of my mind, a fact I was going to 
put to use later, I knew. This guy hold- 
ing my arms behind me was straining 
all his muscles in the effort and yet if I 
wanted to I could have quite easily 
broken his grip. 

The guy who had been sitting beside 
Loko was better than seven feet tall. 
The instant we became helpless the five 
of them left their companion on the dais 
and swarmed about us. 

“So they like to use the fist, eh?” he 
had a bellow like a bull. He stood sprad- 
dle-legged in front of us, his arms 
akimbo. He threw his head back and 
let out a roar of laughter. The sound 
echoed around the huge room. I had to 
strain to look up at him, he was that 
big. 

“Sure,’-’ I said. “What’s more, I’d use 
them on you too, you big schmoe. . . .” 



J-J E THREW a punch at me that was 
telegraphed like a slow freight 
through Missouri. I ducked just as it 
arrived. Only I forgot about the guy 
behind me. I ducked backward and my 
head cracked against his face and came 
forward in a rebound, smack into that 
ham-like fist. I won’t say it felt like be- 
ing hit by a pillow. On the other hand 
I’ve been hit a lot harder, a heck of a 
lot. I shook my head clear and grinned 
up at the no-longer smiling face. 

“Better try again,” I said. “That I 
can take all day.” 

Me and my big yap. Boy, did I take 
the lumps! He hit me with everything 
but that meat cleaver he carried at his 
side and he’d have probably used that 
except he was that mad. I was covered 
with blood, mine, and he was covered 



with glory, when he got through. At 
least it sounded like an ovation he got. 
I staggered to my feet and looked to 
where Hank was. 

He had that beefy look around his 
jawbones too. It was the first time either 
of us had been jumped by a gang of 
women. I guess Hank was thankful this 
was one world where women didn’t have 
the pregorative of scratching. He’d of 
been a lot bloodier than he was. On the 
other hand it isn’t the most pleasant 
thing to have women pounding lumps on 
you. 

But though his head was bloodied it 
wasn’t bowed. He winked at me. I 
thought it looked like a wink. Of course 
with all that swelling around his eyes it 
could have been something else. I 
grinned back at him and the two of them 
turned to face the gang that had jumped 
us. They were standing together just in 
front of the dais. Evidently they’d been 
talking to the old goat they’d left at the 
table. 

“I see,” Loko said, “your planet 
breeds stubborn men. A pity. Because 
we have the means to undo those stub- 
born tongues. I would very much dislike 
causing any additional suffering. Un- 
less, of course, you force my hand. . . .” 

“Perhaps,” Hank managed to get out 
between his puffed lips, “if we knew ex- 
actly what you wanted, we might co- 
operate?” 

Loko repeated the sixty-four dollar 
question again. The others gave us dirty 
looks and shoved their fists down to the 
hardware at their belts. But I was more 
interested in Hank. He had that 
thoughtful look on his face. It was kind 
of hard to figure what the look he had 
was due to the swelling. I just guessed. 

“Okay! ” Hank said in decisive tones. 
“It was like this. . . 

T OKO’S fingers sounded a tatoo on 
the table-top. He chewed his upper 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



27 



lip with his lower for a few seconds, 
then said : 

“It has the ring of truth, this tale you 
tell. Enough to warrant a surety that 
in the tale is a greater part of it. I know 
that Oman, Luria’s father, was in- 
terested in the transmigration of bodies 
from one sphere to another, though I 
didn’t know he had gone so far. But the 
fact remains that it was an experiment, 
otherwise she would have met you two. 
Still, as things stand, perhaps she was 
busied in other matters. . . .?” 

One of the dames had cackled in 
laughter at the words. Her laugh was 
stilled at the look the old guy shot her. 
Yet it seemed to me that there wasn’t 
anything in those mild old eyes to make 
me shut up that way. 

“In any event, I think we had better 
place you in safe custody for the while. 
Captain Mita . . .” 

“Sire?” 

“Have these men placed in the cage 
on the topmost tier. And I shall expect 
a vigilant guard to be put over them. 
They are bait for the beautiful Luria.” 

I got it then. It was too late to do 
anything about it, of course. Because 
even as I turned to give battle, one of 
the boys behind me jabbed my spine 
with his steel tickler, and I turned yel- 
low like a dandelion in the spring. I was 
going to be a live coward. 

“Okay, wise guy,” I said. “You win. 
As for you, you big schmoe,” this to 
the lug who had taken his picks on me, 
“some day you and I’ll meet under bet- 
ter auspices and then . . .” 

* * * 

The gate clanged shut behind us. I 
stepped over to the pallet in the corner 
and sat on the straw. Hank stayed close 
to the bars, his back to me. 

“Might as well take it easy, Hank,” I 
said. “This looks like the kind of place 
that’s going to grow on us. We might as 
well take it easy, like I say. We might 



be here a long time.” 

“Y’know,” Hank said, “something 
funny happened down there. When that 
guard grabbed me and held my arms be- 
hind me, I felt as though all I had to do 
was twist and he’d go flying.” 

I sat straighter. Hank too. ... I 
winced as I grinned in reply to some- 
thing which had occurred too. Maybe 
the big guy hadn’t knocked me cold but 
he sure had damaged me a bit. 

“And that does us good here,” I said. 
“No. Nor did it do any good down 
there, either. Those stickers they had, 
carried more weight than our fists. It’s 
just something we ought to keep in 
mind. Of course, the thing to remember 
now is that Luria knows we’re here. . . .” 
“She does?” I guess my voice was a 
bit on the sarcastic side. He turned like 
a shot and stepped to my side. I didn’t 
like the look in his eyes. 

“Listen! And get this straight!” he 
snapped. “I don’t want any wrong 
cracks about that girl. . . .” 

I laughed and waved my hands in a 
gesture of good-will. “Just talking, 
Hank,” I said. 

His fingers waved a pattern in front 
of my eyes: 

“So stop talking and listen. She said 
she’d see us here. And not to worry.” 
“Not to worry, eh? Well, that’s good 
to know. So what are we supposed to 
do while we’re here, count the straws 
on the bed?” 

“I don’t know. She just said not to 
worry. That she’d get to us.” 

T GRUNTED something in disgust 
A and stretched out on the straw. It 
got under my shirt collar, into my trou- 
sers, my ears and even in my socks. I 
thought, if she were going to get here, 
to do it soon. A little more of this and 
I’ll go wacky. After a bit Hank got 
tired of supporting the bars and came 
down to sit by my side. He hummed a 



28 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



snatch of a popular tune. It was his way 
of being deep in thought. Me, I was also 
deep in thought, thought of a steak at 
Gus’s. 

I’m a bit deaf in one ear and after 
listening to that tuneless humming of 
Hank’s for a while I turned my good 
ear to the straw and faced the wall. The 
masonry wasn’t in too good a condi- 
tion. In fact it was cracked and flakes 
of grey stuff lay like dandruff on the 
surface of the wall. I began to peel some 
of the stuff. It peeled like wallpaper, 
and like wallpaper, some of it stuck. 
I yanked at it, then in anger punched 
at it. My fist almost went through the 
wall. 

I yelped in pain and Hank turned 
to see what had happened. One look and 
he was crawling to my side. 

“Hey,” he whispered in excitement. 
“What goes?” 

“I don’t know,” I whispered in re- 
turn. “But this stuff’s about as strong 
as oatmeal mush. Have a crack at it 
but first put your hanky around your 
knuckles.” 

As I said before, Hank, though a 
small man, had the muscles and hands 
of a carpenter. When he slammed his 
wrapped fist into that masonry some- 
thing gave and it wasn’t his hand. That 
simply disappeared into the wall almost 
to his elbow. I knelt on the bed behind 
him, grabbed him about the middle and 
yanked backward. We fell off the bed 
as the hand came out of the wall faster 
than we thought. 

“My God!” Hank said in disgust as 
he stared at the hole in the wall. “Are 
we dopes. There’s a ram we could have 
used and we go around bustin’ 
knuckles.” 

I knew what he meant. The bed. It 
had a metal frame. In a few seconds 
the bed was apart. We used the long 
metal sides as rams. It wasn’t more than 
a couple of seconds later that light 



streamed through the twin holes we 
made in the wall. What surprised me 
was that no one had heard us with all 
the racket we were making. But I cer- 
tainly didn’t care. Dust and bits of stone 
fell about us in a grey shower as we 
widened the holes into one large hole. It 
was big enough after a few moments 
for the both of us to crawl through 
side by side. So we did. 

We came out on a sort of balcony. 
Since the building was circular the bal- 
cony was also circular. There was a 
ledge perhaps a couple of feet high act- 
ing as a break against the straight drop. 
I peered downward and saw that there 
was no escape that way. And we had to 
escape. Because the instant we were 
through, the patrons of this bastille be- 
gan a caterwauling of sound that should 
have awakened the dead. Only it wasn’t 
the dead we were worrying about. 

“Up! The roof. It’s our only chance,” 
Hank shouted and started up the sill 
of the prison we’d just quitted. 

The wall, I saw then, was not flat or 
smooth. There were serrations and 
rough spots which were deep in the 
stone. One didn’t have to be an acrobat 
to ascend but it would have helped. 
Then we were on the roof. 

As far as I could see we hadn’t got- 
ten anywhere except up. But Hank had 
other thoughts. He started at a run for 
the far end away from the center. I 
followed. What else was there to do? I 
saw when we got there why he had 
headed for it. As I said in the beginning, 
the buildings were constructed like 
pueblos. We were looking down at a set- 
back that was only a half-story below 
us. Hank, being an artist, had formed 
a picture of what the interior had to be 
like from what he saw of the exterior. 
It was a long jump but we didn’t hesi- 
tate a second. I landed in a heap beside 
Hank. 

Instantly we were up and heading for 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



29 



the next set-back. We knew the alarm 
would not be long in sounding. 

We made the second; three more to 
go, I thought, as we raced for the third. 
This time we didn’t quite make it. There 
were many openings on this level. And 
as we started for the jump-off place, 
men began to pour from these openings. 
We ran like scared rabbits, but they had 
the speed of deer. There were some 
twenty or thirty waiting for us at the 
edge. 

We slowed to a walk, then to a stop. 
As usual their stickers were facing our 
way. 

“gO,” LOKO said in wearied tones. 

“You are strong men. Prisons do 
not hold ye. Then we shall have to 
throw ye into a something which will. I 
did not want to do what I am going to 
unless my hand was forced. Ye have 
forced it. Throw them into the pit. . . .” 

There were a heck of a lot more 
guards this time than before. Our march 
to this pit Loko spoke of was a regular 
processional. The whole blame'd village 
turned out to see us, men, women and 
children. I noticed that the tribe was a 
tribe of warriors. All, men, women and 
children, bore arms. They, were neither 
gentle in appearance or manners. We re- 
ceived the physical manifestations of a 
Bronx cheer in the parade to the pit. I 
learned there were many strange and ill- 
smelling vegetables on Pola. Some of the 
kids threw like a Blackwell and with a 
bit better aim. 

The guards thought it was good fun 
until several of them got caught in the 
kisser by some bad throws. Then they 
shagged the kids. By that time we’d 
reached the end of the pueblo city. The 
way led up and down hill for several 
miles. Toward the end of our journey 
there were just a few of the villagers 
left, all women. I got a very strong im- 
pression that the women were far more 



savage than the men. There was some- 
thing so frightening in their bright 
looks, as if they would just as soon have 
our ends over with on the spot. 

We reached our goal at last. I know 
I breathed a sigh of relief. Whatever 
we had to face in the pit would not be 
as frightening as those women. Of 
course I hadn’t seen the pit. I was to 
learn better. 

It was a strange pit. For it was lo- 
cated on a high, or a sort of earthen, 
tower which stuck up like a lonely fin- 
ger on the bosom of the plain. A long 
series of steps wound around the tor 
to the very top. We were forced to walk 
ahead, the prodding swords acting as 
an incentive. At the top we found an- 
other series of steps, these leading 
downward from a platform on the top. 
I hadn’t too much time to observe but 
in the few seconds I noticed that the 
top of the tor had been leveled flat so 
that a great many people could be ac- 
commodated on the surface. 

As Hank and I wound our way down 
the face of the tor we noticed that cir- 
cular opening had been cut into the 
face of the tor. Our way led evenly be- 
tween these openings. I became aware 
of strange odors, bitter-sweet, an acrid 
stench which turned my stomach the 
more I got a whiff of them. We could 
see before we passed them, that these 
openings had bars before them. Odd 
muffled sounds were heard. Once we 
were startled out of our wits by a roar- 
ing sound, which, if it did come from 
an animal, must have been the largest 
beast in any world. It made a lion’s roar 
sound like Mickey Mouse’s squeak. 

Going up we were close to the face 
and going down we were too busy in 
the descent. But once we reached the 
bottom and looked upward we saw how 
far we were from the top. The blasted 
thing looked miles away. There were fly 
specks on the platform way up there. 



30 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



We saw them busying themselves at 
something. And suddenly there was a 
vast clattering sound and the stair down 
which we’d come, reversed itself. One 
problem was answered. If we were to 
escape, it would not be by way of that 
winding staircase. 

“Shall we dance?” Hank asked. 

“Yeah,” I said, looking about me. 
“To the Dance Macabre.” 

LI E SAW what I meant. The floor of 
the huge circular pit was covered 
by innumerable stains. One glance was 
enough to tell us only blood left that 
particular stain. As if that wasn’t 
enough the whitened bones of hundreds 
of humans were scattered about. Many 
a party had been thrown by the lads 
and lassies of Loko’s menage. 

“D’ja notice,” Hank asked, “that al- 
though the sun hasn’t stopped shining 
for a single second we haven’t felt any 
discomfort?” 

“What’s more peculiar,” I reminded 
him, “is that we have no desire for sleep. 
I’m speaking for me of course.” 

“Right. And I’m not hungry either.” 

“Let’s hope the zoo isn’t hungry,” I 
said. 

“Could be, Berk,” he said after a 
moment’s silence, “we won’t get out of 
this spot.” 

“Speaking of zoos,” I said, “wonder 
how our friend Mokar and his mistress 
are making out?” 

The funniest expression came into 
Hank’s eyes. As though he’d been 
clipped by a phantom punch. They 
looked dazed. Words stumbled their 
way past his lips: 

“Yes ... I hear . . . We will . . . 
obey. . . ” 

I got scared and shook the guy. That’s 
all we needed was for Hank to get 
screwy on me. Things were bad enough. 
He came out of it okay. In fact he 
grinned quite like his normal self. 



“What happened? Another seance 
with Luria?” I asked. 

“Yes. Come on. We’ve got to get to 
the center of the arena. Loko wants us 
out of the way. His boys will be here 
soon.” 

Soon, it turned out, was that very 
moment. They must have been right on 
our heels. Suddenly the platform above 
was black with people. It was impos- 
sible to make out the figures of any. 

“Yipe!” Hank howled. “Look!” 

His quivering finger was pointing up 
toward the face of the tor. A huge some- 
thing was clinging to the sheer wall just 
below one of the openings. Slowly it be- 
gan to crawl downward. There was 
something horrible in that sluggishly 
moving shape. It moved with infinite 
care yet with a surety that was startling 
for so large a thing. As it neared the 
pit we saw it more clearly. I’ve always 
wondered what it meant for blood to run 
cold. I knew then. 

It was something from out of a night- 
mare. To a child versed in the fairy tales 
it was a dragon. To me, it was a prehis- 
toric beast. It had a great triangular 
head and a massive body which was 
scaled from the head to the long tail. 
Wisps of smoke trailed from its nostrils. 
I crowded close to Hank as though in 
mutual protection. And he in turn be- 
gan a slow retreat to the point farthest 
from where the beast would land. 

God! It must have stretched a good 
fifty feet. The great head split and from 
the many-rowed teeth came a terrible 
stench. A roar split the silence of the 
pit as it shook its head from side to side. 
Then it saw us and began a cumbrous 
movement in our direction. We kept re- 
treating until our backs were against 
the granite of the wall. It followed re- 
lentlessly, surely. 

“You run one way,” Hank breathed 
heavily. “I’ll run the other.” 

Perhaps the beast had been used to 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



31 



easier prey. For as we split up and ran 
for the opposite wall, it stood still, its 
head moving from side to side as if in 
wonderment at our sudden disappear- 
ance. When it finally did move it was 
with express train speed, the murderous 
tail swishing about in a vicious swing. 

NCE more we faced it together, but 
this time from the opposite wall. 
We knew, however, that the respite we 
had gained was small. No matter how 
many times we ran from it, we had no 
place to go except in a circle. And soon 
or late, we would have to stop from 
sheer exhaustion. Then . . . 

Once more it lumbered toward us. 
And again we broke for the other wall. 
We were breathing a bit heavily as we 
faced the beast again. The faint echo of 
shrieking voices reached our ears and 
we involuntarily looked upward. We 
groaned in unison when we saw the rea- 
son for the shouting. They had let an- 
other of the horrors at us. We could see 
the huge body crawling down the gran- 
ite wall. 

“Run, Berk!” a voice screamed in 
my ear. 

We had forgotten the beast. As we 
had looked upward it had moved for- 
ward, Hank spotting it first. He leaped 
to safety, but I wasn’t that lucky. The 
very tip of the tail caught me as I tried 
to leap to one side and sent me sprawl- 
ing. I said the beast had the speed of a 
train when it moved. I was barely on 
my feet when it was on me. 

I had fallen close by a pile of bones. 
Stooping, I picked a thigh bone from 
the pile. And swinging it like a bat, I 
let the thing have it right across its ugly 
fire-spitting snout. Surely there was no 
hope or reason for my act. But I wasn’t 
going to go down without at least one 
blow in my defense, no matter how puny 
it was. 

I could only stare, open-mouthed, as 



the beast snorted loudly and retreated 
from me. With a wild yell spouting from 
my lips I followed it, belaboring it 
across the snout with my bone-bat. 
Hank, seeing what was taking place, 
came to my assistance. We were laugh- 
ing, I guess in hysteria, at the way 
things were going, when it happened. 
We had forgotten that damned tail. 

One sudden swish and we were both 
knocked from our feet. And this time 
there were two of them at us. The sec- 
ond had arrived to the festive board. 
Their mouths were big enough to take 
us in at a single gulp. I had time for 
one prayer, as I tried to gain my feet. 

I swear their teeth were inches away 
when that terrific wind came up. My 
senses started to reel. I couldn’t move 
a muscle, not even an eyelid. There was 
this wind, and this black cloud that 
came from nowhere. My ears rang with 
a shout . . . “LURIA.” And blackness 
enfolded me in a comforting blanket. 

T> ERK! Berk! ” 

Wind was sweeping past me in 
a constant wave. It cooled my sweaty 
brow. There was a strange up-and-down 
movement. I opened my eyes — and 
grabbed tightly at what lay beneath 
me. 

“You okay, kid?” Hank asked. 

He was directly ahead of me, in fact 
so close we were twins on Mokar’s back. 
Hank’s right arm was about Luria’s 
waist. She had saved us from the very 
mouths of our doom. I didn’t care how 
she did it nor was I interested. In fact 
I didn’t have time to worry about the 
fact that we were riding on the back of 
a panther. I only knew I was alive. It 
was enough for me. 

But after a few moments of this 
pounding run I began to sit up and take 
notice. For one thing, Mokar was run- 
ning so smoothly, in such marvelous 
bounds, that the action was slick as oil. 



32 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 




I swung the bone over my shoulder a* the 
beast thundered down upon us, and I knew 
that there was only one spot to aim at . . . 



For another thing the surroundings were 
exotic in the extreme. 

We were in the midst of jungleland. 
The trees were magnificent in their 
height and variety. Birds of brilliant- 
colored plumage sang from bush and 
branch. The air was invigorating and 
surprisingly free of humidity. Mokar 
was sure-footed. His lithe shape never 
disturbed a single branch as he moved 
along an invisible trail. Luria sat high 
up on his body close to the muscled 
shoulders. She was clothed in the same 
sort of costume I saw on the warrior 
women by Loko’s side. A slender, 
needle-tipped spear was couched along 
one elbow. She looked straight ahead. 

The jungle ended abruptly and we 
entered a grassy plain set in gently roll- 



ing hills. Mokar’s pace never slackened 
though our weight must have been con- 
siderable even for him. The miles flew 
by in endless procession. Then with a 
suddenness that took my breath away, 
while we were in the midst of what 
looked like bundles of straw, hundreds 
of shapes came to life. 

The bundles of what I thought had 
been straw, were humans. And not a 
single one of them was a man. I didn't 
hear Luria give voice to any command, 
yet Mokar slowed his pace and after a 
very short while stopped running al- 
together. Luria slid from his back and 
Hank and I followed, although more 
gingerly. In an instant we were sur- 
rounded by the hundreds of chattering 
women. They're the same all over, the 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 




instant you give them a chance to yat- 
tete, they start full blast. 

I’ll say this for Luria. She didn’t give 
them too much opportunity to work 
their jaws on talk. Her arm with the 
spear held high shot up and silence fell 
among the warrior-women. As they 
gathered close I looked them over. 
There were short ones, tall ones, slim 
ones and fat ones, beauties and ugly 
ones, calm ones and those whose eyes 
looked fierce enough to frighten Boris 
Karloff. In other words, they looked no 
different than those on the planet we’d 
quitted what seemed like years before. 

"VTOT all were giving Luria attention. 

’ There were some who stole glances 
at us. There was one in particular. She 



was rather tall, certainly taller than I, 
whose hair was the color of molten gold, 
whose eyes were sapphires swimming 
in a sea of pearl. Her bosom rose high 
and well-formed in the breastplate she 
wore. And as she saw my admiring 
glance her breath quickened and her 
face flushed. I made a mental note that 
if the time ever came for talk, I’d for- 
get to. 

Luria nodded for us to step to her 
side. Then, as the others faced us, Luria 
began to talk: 

“These are the ones I promised to 
bring. The secret my father, the great 
Oman, taught me has been put to use. 
But as he warned, I could not bring 
other than their bodies. More, I could 
not foresee the place of their arrival. 





34 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“So misfortune came to them. One of 
Loko’s bands found them before I could 
reach them, and brought them before 
the tyrant. Warriors! Loko threw them 
into the pit. . . 

A gasp of horror went up at the 
words. 

“Yes,” Luria went on. “Into the pit. 
Strangers on the planet of Pola. Loko 
violated again the holiest words of my 
father. Oh, that he were alive. . . 

“Mighty Oman, may his soul leave 
the place of its abode and help us,” the 
women intoned solemnly. 

Hank and I kept stealing puzzled 
glances at each other. But our curiosity 
had to contain itself. We knew that a 
lot of answers would soon be given. 

. . His thousand years of reign 
brought Pola a great peace after the 
tens of thousands of years of wars. Now 
Loko has it in mind to break that peace. 
He has even enlisted the aid of 
men. . . 

This time the women’s voices rose 
in a vast shout of anger. And once more 
Luria went on: 

. . Aye! Men like Hostal, and 
Mita and others of his ilk. That was 
why I went out of our time and place 
into another. To bring back the sex 
which once ruled. Our men have grown 
soft to the ways of war. They have 
grown soft because the years have made 
them that way. Look at the weapons of 
our fighting. Swords, spears and knives. 
But we are fortunate. Loko and his min- 
ions have no choice in this matter. We 
must prevent Loko and his from gain- 
ing the upper hand. Else we all become 
slaves to his will. . . .” 

It was all going in one ear and out 
the other. But not Hank. He got it right 
away. I was just in time to see the heat 
of anger come to his eyes and face, but 
not in time to stop him. Whirling swift- 
ly, he puled Luria about until she was 
facing him. 



“So that’s why you brought me here? 
As a guinea pig! As a symbol for these 
Lysystratas of yours. . . 

Luria didn’t take his fingers from her 
wrist. Instead, she motioned for the 
other dames to halt; at the very touch 
of Hank’s fingers, swords flashed in the 
bright sunlight and bodies tensed. 

“Did you think it was because of your 
manly beauty?” she asked. “Or because 
of your charm?” 

Hank’s fingers fell away from her 
wrist. The flush of anger still lighted 
his lean long face. But there was a tinge 
of frustration in his eyes. Perhaps he 
had assumed it might have been because 
of some such reasons. 

“I brought you here, you and this 
ugly wart of a man whom you call 
friend, because you were the vessel in 
which the fluid of my father’s wisdom 
coagulated. Only you heard the call. 
And because this Berk was your friend 
did I allow him with you. . . .” 

“Okay, babe,” Hank said evenly. 
“You called, we answered. Now I don’t 
like the set-up. So suppose you send us 
right back to the place you got us 
from.” 

“You pout prettily,” Luria said. 
“How like must this Earth be to our 
planet. Here, too, the men pout if we 
do not give them their way.” 

| DAMNED her and could have 
kicked Hank. He kept opening his 
yap and she kept putting her foot in it. 

“Yes,” I said. “We have all the man- 
ners of men. But I gather you are not 
too well-acquainted with all the ways. 
Perhaps it’s in the cards that you’re 
going to learn.” 

“Aah! He gives a twist to words and 
has no fear that they will rebound to 
confound him,” Luria said, turning her 
attention to me. 

I didn’t care. There wasn’t a dame 
alive on this or any planet I couldn’t 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



35 



argue with or against. 

“Yep. I have no fear. Only in your 
tears do you have immunity. . . 

“Tears! Do you take me for a man?” 

I gave her a slow up-and-down. This 
time it was she who burned bright red. 
I knew my look was an insult. I’d al- 
ready figured the score. If we were play- 
ing Lysystrata then the boy friends and 
husbands of these Amazons were weak- 
kneed neutrals. 

“Not the way you stack up, kid,” I 
said. 

I guess it was insult direct. Only the 
answer to it came from an unexpected 
corner. My head rocked from a blow 
and I staggered a bit before I recovered 
my balance. When my head cleared I 
saw it was the luscious dish whom I’d 
been admiring who stood facing me. 

“It is not meet that our leader, whose 
toes you are too low to touch, should 
deal you the punishment you deserve. 
But I, who am the smallest of her serv- 
ants, can. . . .” 

These babes sure could yell. All they 
needed was one of their number to open 
up and they were ready with the howl- 
ing. I looked at Luria who had a half- 
grin on her lips. 

“Teach the little toad a lesson,” Luria 
said. 

“Hey!” I called in protest as an im- 
mense circle formed about us. “I can’t 
hit a woman.” 

And once more my head rocked as she 
planted one right on the jawbone. Well, 
woman or no, she wasn’t playing for 
fun. I stepped back, danced around a 
bit to loosen up my leg muscles, put 
up my dukes and, whammm! Something 
hit me with the force of a mule’s kick. 

“Berk,” a voice called from a long 
distance off. “Get up. Don’t let her look 
like a champ. . . .” 

There were ten suns up there, and a 
million women at least. Then my head 
cleared and there was that beautiful pan 



looking down at me. I motioned for her 
to step back and got to my feet. 

“Okay, kiddo,” I said, snuffling the 
claret back up my nostrils. “You asked 
for it. Come and get it.” 

Then bing, bing, bing, faster than the 
telling takes, she let me have it. 

Gosh, I thought. They got the sweet- 
est-singing birds out here. And angels, 
too. My, what a place. Just like heaven. 
And once more that voice called me. I 
was beginning to dislike Mister Sharpe. 
Why didn’t he take a couple of lumps? 
Was I supposed to take them all? 

The birds I thought I heard was the 
strident sound of all those bags yelling, 
and the angels’ faces were not so an- 
gelic, once my vision cleared. My knees 
were on the wobbly side. My glamour- 
puss could hit like Louis. I assayed a 
grin but yipped in pain instead. 
“Enough?” the dear girl asked. 

J SHOOK my head. I’m a stubborn 
dope in some ways. But the memorp 
of the giant who’d taken his picks on 
me had come to mind and suddenly I 
wanted to haul off at something. 

I motioned her forward with beckon- 
ing fingers. This time I got there just. 
Instead of hitting with my right, I 
closed the beckoning fingers of my left 
hand and jabbed her right on the point 
of her stubborn chin. Her head went 
back and my right came over, but with 
all I had on it. There was a sharp 
crack! And baby went sailing through 
the air to land on a pillow of grass some 
fifteen feet from where we were bat- 
tling. 

They proved they were the opposite 
sex, then. Their voices rose like ban- 
shees on the prowl and with a single 
concerted howl they made for me. Nor 
were they joking. They had those three- 
feet long stickers out and aimed right 
for Hank and myself. Again Luria 
stopped them: 



36 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Halt! Are we men that we attack 
like animals? Besides, Lovah has not 
signified defeat.” 

I cursed the day I’d ever seen this 
woman, the day I’d ever met Henry 
Sharpe, and most of all the day I went 
to the zoo with him. Now I was on a 
spot. This Lovah could just be that 
stubborn as not to give up easily. 

Several of the gals had gone to Lo- 
vah’s assistance. The kid was on the 
wobbly side as they brought her for- 
ward. My punch had raised a lump on 
the side of her jaw. And her eyes didn’t 
quite have that superior look as she 
tried to look into mine. 

“Better take it easy, kid,” I said, 
picking my words carefully. “There’s 
no sense in beating each other silly. 
You’re far too pretty to get messed 
up ” 

I guess it was the first time anyone 
had called her pretty. Though why not 
was a mystery to me. She could make 
my breakfast any morning of the week. 

Her left hand came up and caressed 
the swelling and her eyes became a lot 
more natural, and something of specu- 
lation showed in the deep blue. I held 
my breath, waiting for her answer. I 
blew it out in a deep sigh when she 
said: 

“Enough ... for the while,” Lovah 
said. 

Only Luria was smart enough to get 
the game I’d played. 

“You are clever with words,” she 
said, and this time there was no scorn 
in her voice. “Well, call your mounts. 
Enough time has been wasted. . . 

It was a command which was in- 
stantly obeyed. A tuneless whistling 
went up and like black demons called 
from their pits, hundreds of black pan- 
thers, much like Mokar in appearance, 
though none so large, rose, as though 
from the very ground. They loped for- 
ward and the women mounted them. 



Lovah gestured for me to step to her 
side. I did and she motioned for me to 
mount behind her. Then at a signal from 
Luria, who had again taken Hank be- 
hind her, we were off. 

“Say, beautiful,” I said as we started, 
“you got a wallop. What’s more you got 
a whole lot more that appeals to 
me. . . 

She turned and looked deeply into 
my eyes. Her face became oddly soft, 
then, with the speed of light, it changed 
and as she drove her elbow into my 
belly, knocking the wind from me, she 
said: 

“You got a wallop, too. . . 

A T FIRST I thought it was suburbia. 

At least a real-estate agent’s dream 
development. They called it Gayno, but 
it could have been the community of El 
Rancho Grande, for all of me. It was a 
community of well-laid-out homes, all 
single-storied, with the most modern 
architectural designs; sloping roofs, 
glass walls, patios and terraces to take 
advantage of shade and sun gave it the 
House Beautiful look. 

When we were still several hundred 
yards from the village of homes the 
women lifted their voices in a sort of 
musical chant. It was the first I knew 
their voices could be soft and charm- 
ingly feminine. Then as we swept into 
the level grass-filled width of street a 
host of men and children came from the 
houses and followed us to one set apart 
from the rest. Luria, in the lead, drew 
Mokar up to the shallow series of steps 
leading to the door of the house, and 
dismounted. Lovah kicked her panther 
beside Mokar and with a well-placed 
blow of her elbow, knocked me from 
the animal. As she wheeled him around, 
she turned her face to me and winked 
broadly. 

I sighed deeply and got to my feet 
and walked to the side of Hank and the 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



37 



girl. I had an idea that this Lovah baby 
wasn’t too displeased with me. 

“Well, come in,” Luria said. 

The other women scattered as we fol- 
lowed the girl into the house. If I 
thought the exteriors of the homes 
looked like something out of House 
Beautiful, the interiors took my breath 
away. Wow! Two-level interiors with 
an incline leading to a combination din- 
ing and living room on the second story. 
The first floor had four walls of colored 
glass which softened the sun’s rays and 
gave them a subdued and marvelous 
brilliance which somehow did not hurt 
the eyes. There was a wondrous air of 
peace and serenity in this house. 

Luria slumped wearily into a deep- 
piled chair after throwing off her belt 
and helmet. There were a couple of 
sofas facing each other across a gigantic 
coffee table. Hank and I sat side by side 
on one, so that we were in profile to 
the girl. To our left was a raised fire- 
place of colored stones. Above it, on 
the mantle, were some statuary, primi- 
tives, from the looks of them. At sight 
of them, Hank arose and examined them 
closely. 

“Say! These are truly wonderful. 
Who was the carver?” 

“One of my servants,” Luria said in 
answer. But her mind was elsewhere. 
She shook her head after a second or 
so, looked up to Hank and said, “Care 
for a beverage?” 

“Sure,” I said. “Make mine Scotch 
and water.” 

Hank was still deep in study of the 
small statue. He turned and said: 

“Servant? Why that’scriminal ! Some- 
one with a positive talent for creative 
work, someone with the ability of this 
person whoever he may be, should cer- 
tainly not be a servant!” 

“Sit down,” Luria said. It wasn’t said 
in anger but rather in an almost suppli- 
cating tone. 



TT ANK sat deep in a corner of the 
A wide sofa. To my surprise she 
walked around the arm of the sofa, past 
the coffee table and faced us. She 
studied us for a second, then spoke: 

“You are strangers here, in a strange 
land, among strange people who have 
strange customs. I don’t have any 
doubts but that you will both have to 
spend the rest of your natural lives 
here. My father discovered the secret 
of transmigration of bodies. But it is 
still a mystery to me how he returned 
them. 

“Therefore I beg of both of you to 
take what I have to say to heart. There 
should be a beginning, I know. But that 
beginning goes back into an antiquity 
greater and more distant than any you 
know. I saw a something in your eyes 
the instant you entered my home. I 
think I interpreted it correctly. You 
both marveled that you should find 
something approximating your own civ- 
ilized world, after a visit to the world 
of Loko. 

“Then let me start from there. For 
it is in that you might best understand. 
Here, you have a ready comparison. 
This land of Gayno and Loko’s world. 
Further, when my father lived, there 
were better worlds, finer cities, greater 
cultures. But death came to him as it 
must come to all and though he lived 
to be eleven hundred and sixty-four 
years. . . .” 

I couldn’t help it. Eleven hundred 
and sixty-four years! I grunted an un- 
intelligible something. She caught on 
fast. 

“Unbelievable, isn’t it? That one can 
live so many years?’ she asked. 

Hank got the connotation of her re- 
mark before I did. He squinted at her 
and said: 

“And I suppose you’re in your . . .?” 

“I am nine hundred and twenty-four 
years old,” she said. 



38 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Pretty well-preserved for your age, 
I’d say,” I said. 

“Lovah is almost a thousand years 
old,” she said. 

I thought that was nasty of her. But 
it was like a woman. I grinned weakly. 
“Touchfi,” I said. 

“Let’s get back to your father,” Hank 
suggested. 

“Very well,” she replied. “In the last 
forty years of my father’s reign, a small 
border clash became a conflagration 
which set all of Pola aflame. He did not 
know it at the time, but there were some 
who were envious of his power. They 
plotted his downfall and overcame his 
legions. It turned into a war of utter 
annihilation. When it was over, there 
was nothing left of culture, civilization, 
or people. Here and there were scat- 
tered the fragments of humanity. 

“They went back to living as they 
had done thousands of years ago. They 
had to do this because my father in his 
great wisdom, realizing the finality of 
the battle, doomed the terror weapons 
of the time and erased their marks for- 
ever. We, the offspring of that terrible 
time, had only the means you see of 
waging war, a sword, a spear and a 
knife. 

“So we had to make the best of 
things. For my people I chose the stand- 
ard of living which best suited our time. 
I utilized the forms of home architec- 
ture which because of the constant sun- 
light would be most suitable. But, as I 
said before, we were scattered over the 
entire face of Pola. Loko, who was the 
ringleader and the only one of the Inner 
Council to survive the war, went back 
even further in antiquity for the plans 
of his community. But he wasn’t inter- 
ested in how his people lived. He still 
had it in mind and to this day is ob- 
sessed, by his overweening desire to be 
the ruler of the planet of Pola. . . .” 



CHE paused for a breath. And in that 
^ moment I thought, baby, you got a 
right to tell some one else they’re clever 
with words. You don’t have to take a 
back seat to anybody when it comes to 
making with the lip. 

“Aside from the physical manifesta- 
tions of what transpired with Berk and 
myself,” Hank spoke up like a good 
scientist, “there are certain questions 
which are bothering me. I would appre- 
ciate it very much if an answer were 
forthcoming. 

“Now then, I believe I am assuming 
correctly, when I say that Pola and the 
planet from which we have come are 
existing in the same spheres of time and 
place . . .?” 

Oh boy, I thought. Good old Sharpe! 
Now he’s going to make like he knows 
what he’s talking about. Of course Hank 
always had a sharp mind, if I’m allowed 
a pun. He was proving it now. 

Luria answered the question in the 
seconds I was in thought: 

“That is right.” 

“Well,” Hank said in a speculative 
tone, “that proved a theory which some 
men have always held. Now another 
question. How is it you speak, in fact 
all the people we have met speak, our 
tongue, English?” 

Luria smiled and arose and walked 
to a near wall. A heavy ribbon-like cord 
hung against the wall. She puled at it 
and from somewhere in the house a 
bell sounded in answer to the bell-pull. 
She came back to the sofa and snuggled 
up in a corner. 

“The tongue we speak is universal on 
Pola,” she said. The instant you landed 
you too, spoke our tongue.” 

It wasn’t a satisfactory answer but I 
supposed it had to do. Hank wasn’t 
through, however. 

“That doesn’t make sense. Try this; 
what is the Groana bird and why is it 
holy?” 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



39 



We had to wait for the answer to that. 
A husky, masculine voice said: 

“Greatness . . . You rang?” 

We turned and there was a man who 
wearing a sort of lavalava for a cos- 
tume. His hairy chest was bare as were 
his legs. Muscles rippled along the 
shoulders and arms and as he bent his 
legs knotted with muscles. He was close 
to six feet in height. 

“Yes, Hioa,” Luria said. “My guests 
are thirsty. . . 

He shook his head and as silently as 
he had come, left. 

“All your men, servants?” Hank 
asked. 

She nodded. “If not so in fact, in 
theory,” she replied. 

“A nation of women,” I said. “All 
wrong.’ 

“By Earthly standards,” she said 
turning to me. “But as I said in the be- 
ginning you must understand our cus- 
toms are not as yours. Here, the women 
are the rulers. Men have only a minor 
part in the business of state.” 

I was tempted to ask something but 
I didn’t think it to be the time. 

. . Only Loko has changed those 
conditions of servitude,” Luria went on. 
“Since the dawn of the new era, women 
took over the duties which men served 
so dishonorably before. All went well 
until Loko thought the time ripe. Se- 
cretly, he trained his minions in the arts 
of war, and when he thought the time 
was ripe, began his campaign. He has 
a clever tongue. Not only did he manage 
to train the men of his tribe but he also 
convinced the warrior women of the 
Federation it was only for the purpose 
of waging war upon me that he did so. 
And that when he had defeated me he 
would relegate them to their former 
positions.” 

“And the Groana Bird?” Hank asked 
again. 

“The Groana Bird is the symbol by 



which we will conquer,” Luria said. “It 
is the most ancient of all living beings 
on Pola. It holds the secret of all things. 
It means success or failure. Once it sat 
on my father’s right hand. Now it roams 
free and unfettered in the forest. We 
all seek it. And find it I must even if 
I have to go into the valley of the 
mists. . . .” 



|\I Y EARS pricked up at the sound 
of a screaming voice. I thought 
I was mistaken, but the voice sounded 
masculine. The screaming came closer. 
Then another voice joined it, this one 
raised in anger, and this one decidedly 
feminine. Hank and the girl heard the 
sounds also. An expression of displeas- 
ure crossed her face. She rose and start- 
ed down the ramp. Hank and I followed. 

We arrived at the front door simul- 
taneously, Luria, Hank, I and the two 
who were screaming. Luria flung the 
door wide and a giant of a man sprawled 
to his knees before her. Behind him, 
some few feet came a short scrawny 
woman who held in one hand a thick 
club. 

“Ohh, Greatness . . .” the character 
on his knees babbled. “Save me from 
Haavah. Save me. . . .” 

The women skidded to halt before 
us. The sounds of the screaming had 
brought others to their doors. I could 
see children huddled close to their fath- 
er’s knees. From the houses closest to 
ours, several women strolled over in 
curiosity. But at sight of the guy on his 
knees before us and the scrawny babe 
who was standing with the club hanging 
limply from one hand, smiles broke on 
their lips. It was evident this story was 
not new to them. 

“Now what is it, Jimno?” Luria 
asked in disgust. 

“Haavah,” the man babbled in a bass 
voice which Ezio Pinza would have been 
proud to possess, “she beats me. ... I 



40 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



swear I have done nothing to deserve 
the beatings. . . 

“He lies, the idiot,” the woman said. 
“In his teeth. Ten years we have been 
together. A simple thing like soup, and 
he burns it. It has become unbearable. 
I awake and it takes him a lifetime to 
make breakfast. Our children are the 
worst-dressed in the whole village. All 
he wants to do is sing. . . 

“Now ain’t that too bad?” I said be- 
fore Luria could say anything. “All he 
wants to do is sing, eh? Well, maybe we 
shouldn’t waste sympathy on him. After 
all, he’s so big and you’re so small. I’m 
sure if he ever decided to give you 
your lumps, you’d be in bed for a 
week. Of course, he might have a bit of 
peace. . . .” 

“Quiet,” Luria spat at me in anger. 
“I give the orders and dispense the jus- 
tice in these cases.” 

“Sure,” Hank said. “Close your trap. 
If we ever tell these characters that 
they’re living in a fool’s paradise they’ll 
tear these women limb from limb. . . .” 

I swear that beautiful face turned 
livid in anger. She turned on Hank and 
slapped him right across the cheek. He 
went pale in anger and I saw his hands 
clench into bony fists. For the barest 
second I thought he was going to haul 
off and slug her. How he held back from 
doing it I don’t know. I’m sure I 
couldn’t have. Instead, he turned on his 
heels and went back into the house. It 
was a mistake. Because I observed that 
the guy on his knees had been watching. 
There was a bright light in his eyes 
when Hank talked up like he did. But 
when Hank did the disappearing act, 
the light died. 

The anger in Luria’s face went into 
her voice: 

“Haavah! We are becoming weary of 
this constant strife between you and 
Jimno. If it is true what you say and 
that you are as tired of it as you say, 



then haul him up before the bar of 
justice and have them sentence Jimno 
to the breaking of paarans to the 
halter ” 

\ CHANGE came over the woman’s 
face at Luria’s words. It reflected 
fear and horror now. 

“Great Luria,” the woman bleated. 
“Not that.” 

“And why not?’ Luria asked. “He is 
of little use to you. Further he causes 
nothing but trouble. He sings when he 
should be doing the housework, he 
burns the soup, lets the children run 
ragged and uncared for, is lazy and a 
dozen other things. You will be better 
rid of him. . . .” 

“And he of her,” I put in. 

“But ... the paavans. They have 
killed some who have tried to break 
them to the halter. . . 

“So he’ll have a chance to prove he’s 
either man or mouse,” I said. “Certainly 
he’s big enough as a man. H’m. If I had 
you for a wife, I’d know who’d do the 
housework and care for the kids. We 
teach women differently on Earth. . . .” 
“How is It done on Earth?” the man 
asked suddenly. He was still on his 
knees but his body was erect. And he 
was looking straight at me. So stunned 
were the two women by Jimno’s temer- 
ity in speaking to me without asking 
their permission, they could only stare. 

“She’d fit just right over your knee,” 
I said quickly. “A couple of smacks 
with one of those palms and she’d be- 
have, believe me . . .” 

“Quiet, you!” Luria stormed. 

But Haavah wielded a more efficient 
means of silence. She raised her club 
and clouted Jimno across the back of 
the head. A ripple of laughter ran across 
the narrow circle which had formed 
about the woman and her husband, as 
the man folded up in middle and sank 
face downward to the ground. 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



41 



“Take him away,” Luria said. To the 
paavans’ compound. Let him break six 
of the beasts to the halter.” 

Suddenly I felt sick. Me and my big 
mouth. What had I done? Maybe I 
had sentenced a man to death? Anger 
whipped my voice to a frenzied shout: 
“So this is the stuff from which you 
want us to weld a fighting force? And 
how do you expect us to work it, by the 
women whipping their men to us?” 
From the corner of my eye I saw the 
man stir, shake his head and slowly get 
to his feet. Only I got the air of ominous 
quiet with which he moved. The rest 
watched him arise and an air of watch- 
ful waiting settled among the women. 
Dimly I felt someone standing by the 
door behind us. At the same time I real- 
ized that other doorways hid other 
watchers. 

The woman, called Haavah, waited 
only until Jimno stood erect. Then with 
a movement that was altogether at vari- 
ance with her scrawny self, she leaped 
forward and swung the club at the same 
time. 

Man oh man, if I had ever been 
slugged like that I know I’d never have 
been able to duck that club. But he did. 
Then like a boxer who’d been hit hard 
and wanted to weather the storm, he 
ducked and weaved under and past the 
swinging club. The women thought the 
whole thing the funniest thing they’d 
ever seen. They laughed as the poor guy 
ducked, and once or twice they literally 
screamed in hysteria as the club barely 
missed the curly black hair. 

When he did move it was with the 
speed of a striking snake. One second 
he was under the club, the next his 
fingers had wrapped themselves around 
it. With one twist it was pulled from 
her. He chuckled deep in his throat as 
he tossed it to one side. He motioned 
her forward. She didn’t come so he 
stepped toward her. I yelled a warning 



as her hand sped to her belt. But he 
was speed personified as his hand beat 
hers to it. He twisted with an effortless 
movement of his wrist and her hand fell 
from the belt. 

It was his free hand which went 
toward the belt now. I saw a dozen 
hands go for weapons as his fingers 
went about the circle of leather. He 
yanked downward and the leather 
parted. This too he tossed to one side. 
All the while his right hand held her 
wrist prisoner. 

“Ten years, Haavah,” his voice lifted 
in a singing shout. “Ten years. . . 

T’LL SAY this. Her face showed not 

the smallest sign of fear as he 
whirled her so that her back was to him. 
Then he had lifted her from her feet and 
dropping to one knee he laid her across 
that knee. She squirmed like a fish in a 
net and like that same fish found all her 
squirming without avail. His hand lifted 
and fell, palm downward. It lifted and 
fell. At first there was no sound but the 
heavy breathing of the two. But after 
the tenth whack on the woman’s poste- 
rior, a whimper fled her lips. The whim- 
per became a moan which later became 
a sobbing sound. It was strange but not 
a woman stirred or spoke while he was 
administering the spanking. Nor did 
any lift a voice when he was done and 
said: 

“Go, woman, and prepare me food. 

J) 

Jimno stood tall and proud and faced 
his queen. 

“The sentence still stands, Jimno,” 
she said. “Haavah will cook and keep 
your house afterward. Beating her 
proves nothing.” 

“It proves he is a man,” I said. 

“Not by your standards. My women 
and I too, have broken the paavans to 
the halter. Let him go and try to do it. 
Then we can talk of manhood. . . .” 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“What is a paavan?” I asked. 
“Mokar is a paavan. . . .” 

I turned and without a word went 
back into the house. I saw a shape slide 
into a passageway. I only got a glimpse 
of the figure. It was that of a man and 
the man was Hioa. 

Hank was deep in the sofa, cuddled 
up against one arm. He didn’t hear me 
come in what with the depth of the car- 
pet and for another thing he was deep 
in thought. I slid into the opposite chair 
and waited for him to come out of his 
brown study. 

His eyes were bleak and bitter when 
he finally did turn. “Nice going, Shar- 
pe,” he said aloud. But he wasn’t talk- 
ing to me. He was talking to himself. 
“Now you can join the rest of the 
eunuchs. . . .” 

“Aah, cut it out,” I said in disgust. 
“What the heck makes you that way. 
The gal’s nuts about you.” 

“Sure. Just like that scrawny dame 
was about her man. Luria’s probably 
been figuring in what womanly capacity 
I’d do best. Well, if she thinks I’m going 
to cook or scrub floors. . . 

I knew there was one way of break- 
ing Hank from his thoughts. He wasn’t 
the kind of guy who looked good play- 
ing cry-baby. For one thing he was too 
big a man and I don’t mean in size. But 
we had undergone a very strange and 
mystifying ordeal. Not that I’m such a 
big Joe about something like that. It’s 
just that I’m thicker-skinned. Besides, 
I had some long range plans, most of 
which had to do with a Lovah gal. . . . 
So I gave him the business about my 
troubles: 

. . You got worries,” I broke in. 
“Your worries I should have. . . .” 
“What do you mean?” 

“I just sentenced a guy to maybe his 
death.” 

“Huh?” 

“Sure. I made with a yuck and those 



screwy dames, or rather, that screwy 
dame, Luria, sentenced the poor Joe to 
break Mokar’s buddies to the halter.” 

“She would,” Hank said sourly. 

“Yeah. And after he gave that silly 
frau of his a good tanning,” I said. 

“You mean the guy stood up for his 
rights?” 

“That he did.” 

“H’m. Then maybe all hope is not 
lost. Where’s Luria?” 

“Don’t ask me. I had to walk away 
from it all.” 

“What do you want?” her voice 
asked from the direction of the ramp. 

“One thing only, my pet,’ Hank said. 
“What is it you want of us exactly?” 

“Just one thing. Teach my menfolk 
how to battle.” 

“Okay. But first teach your menfolk 
how to be men,” Hank said. 

And that was that for the evening or 
morning or whatever time it was in that 
land of eternal sun. . . . 

np HERE were twin beds in the sleep- 
A ing rooms Luria had given us. Hank 
and I slept in our undies. When we 
awoke we awoke to find the rest of our 
garments gone. In their places were 
breastplates and helmets such as Cap- 
tain Mita and the other men in Loko’s 
world, wore. We even had the long and 
short stickers to go in the belt that came 
with the metal apron that went over 
the short pants. 

“She doesn’t miss a trick,” Hank said 
wearily as he stepped into the modern 
bathroom adjoining our bedroom. I 
heard the splashing sound of water but 
I was too engrossed in putting on the 
uniform which had been provided for 
me. Nor was it a bad fit. The only thing 
large was the breastplate. Of course I 
realized after a try-on, they weren’t 
meant for a man. 

The bathroom had everything but 
razors. My beard which is of a dark 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



43 



texture anyway hadn’t known a blade’s 
touch for several days, in fact from the 
looks of it, for a week. I remembered 
then that the few men I’d seen were 
either smooth-shaven or were hairless 
on the face. Hank gave a last sputter 
and stepped up from the sunken shower. 
He was rubbing himself with a fuzzy 
towel. 

“Ain’t none. I looked. Guess no one 
shaves out here. How do they fit?” 

I did a double-take at the words, then 
grinned at him. He had guessed at my 
tardiness. I told him and he answered 
my grin. 

“Oh, well. Go on, take your shower. 
I’ll see you later.” 

He wasn’t in the room when I came 
back. Neither was his war garb. I 
donned mine and stepped out into the 
passage leading to the ramp. Here the 
bedrooms were on the lower floor. The 
two of them were already eating when 
I arrived. Hank gave me an okay sign 
with his thumb and index fingers, but 
the girl didn’t even look up. We ate in 
silence. 

“Well,” she said after a last drink 
of something that looked like coffee but 
tasted like something else only better, 
“now that we’re awake, suppose we get 
started?” 

“You bet,” I said, “and what does 
your greatness want us to do?” 

. . When we get there,” she threw 
over her shoulder as she started for the 
door. 

I gulped audibly when I saw what 
was awaiting us. Mokar and two of his 
brothers. Luria mounted her beast and 
looked to us. Hank and I did an Al- 
ponse-Gaston act for a couple of sec- 
onds, then with ill-concealed reluctance, 
stepped to the sides of our mounts. 
Those darned animals must have sensed 
our fear. As I started to lift my leg he 
turned his head and showed me his 
fangs. 



They were very pretty. I wondered 
who his dentist was, as I shied, but fast, 
from the spot I was in. Hank, on the 
other hand, had a lot more guts than I 
wanted to have. When his mount tried 
to pull a similar stunt, Hank cracked 
him over the nose. The beast’s head 
came up and sideways. Hank slapped 
him again and jerked at the halter. In- 
stantly the panther obeyed. Then Hank 
slid in the saddle. 

And that left me on the ground. 

“Oh, come now, nimble-tongue,” 
Luria needled me. “We can’t spend all 
day here.” 

“We can’t?” I parried beautifully. 

She looked past me and I turned to 
follow her glance. Directly behind us 
were a dozen of the biggest women I’ve 
ever seen. Not a single one was under 
six feet in height. And all were armed. 
As though in answer to a signal, one of 
them jabbed at me with one of those 
ten feet-long spears they carried. It 
barely touched me, but that tip had a 
needle for a point. I yipped in pain and 
alarm. Then with a single leap I was 
in the shallow saddle. Teeth or no teeth, 
that spear was sharper. 

We hadn’t far to go. And after a while 
I got to rather like the ride. Those pan- 
thers ran like the wind and the move- 
ment didn’t have the up-and-down feel- 
ing of a horseback ride. Our destination 
was a valley. The valley was natural but 
it had been fenced in by a staked fence. 
There was a gate at the end we had 
arrived at. One of the warrior women 
dismounted and opened it. We rode in 
and found ourselves on a wide ledge 
overlooking the sheer drop to the almost 
circular valley below. 

T LOOKED about and saw that a 
long series of steps had been cut 
into the stone. Below us something was 
taking place which caught and held my 
attention. At the far end of the valley 



44 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



45 




I made out the shapes of four panthers. 
Coming toward them were a dozen 
women. These women were armed with 
spears. Behind them, unarmed, walked 
Jimno. We could hear the women crying 
to the panthers, telling them to take it 
easy. The animals suddenly broke and 
raced around the valley floor. Not all 
of them I saw after a second. One of 
them had been cornered. And for the 
first time I saw what Jimno carried in 
his arms, a bridle and halter. 



I gasped when I realized what he was 
going to do, place them about the pan- 
ther’s throat. I watched breathlessly 
his approach. The only thing the women 
did were hold the panther at bay with 
their spears. Jimno had to do the dirty 
work. And it was more than just dirty. 
It was dangerous. The beast snarled 
and showed its teeth. But I’ll say this 
for the man. He walked in like it was a 
big tabby he was going to pet. 

Suddenly there was a swirl of motion. 



A small cloud of dust arose. When it 
cleared we saw that Jimno had succeed- 
ed in placing the halter where it be- 
longed. But his task was half-done. Now 
he had to ride the panther. Like a cen- 
taur, Jimno leaped onto the animal’s 
back, kicked him in the ribs and began 
to work the reins. The animal snarled, 
turned his head to get at the man’s feet 
but was only rewarded by slaps across 
its nostrils and kicks in the ribs. I was 
reminded of a cowboy breaking in a 



bronc. And to carry the simile further, 
Jimno rode the panther back and forth 
across the floor of the valley until the 
panther obeyed the slightest touch of 
the reins and of the feet. 

The second and third beasts broke in 
as easily as the first. The fourth was 
another story. It was easily the largest 
of the four animals, even larger, I think 
than Mokar. It slapped the spears, once 
knocking down the woman who held one 
of them. If the others hadn't rushed to 




46 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



her defense he would have torn her limb 
from limb. 

“Jimno had better be careful with 
this one,” Luria said. “He shows a wild 
spirit.” 

Jimno must have realized it also. His 
steps were far more careful. He walked 
daintily as though on eggs. The circle 
of spears opened to let him through. 
Sensing the helplessness of the man, the 
beast whirled to face him. Someone 
nearby was breathing in harsh, throaty 
gasps. It was me. . . . 

Down below the drama was becom- 
ing more tense. Jimno moved forward 
slowly, carefully. The beast retreated 
until at last its back was against the 
wall. Then Jimno did something strange. 
He paused when only a few feet from 
the panther, shook his head and dropped 
the gear he was carrying. He paused 
there erect and unafraid, then stepped 
forward. Instantly, as though the beast 
had been awaiting Jimno’s action, he 
reared upward its front legs with those 
terrible claws open. And Jimno walked 
straight forward into the embrace. 

I tried to yell, tried to get something 
past the sandpaper which had suddenly 
lined my throat, but nothing came out. 
Even in the midst of terror, in circum- 
stances which seem to hold one’s entire 
attention, there is part of one that is 
separate from the rest. So it was I some- 
how saw Hank’s and the girl’s reaction 
to what was going on below. 

Hank’s face was rigid, livid with the 
tense expectation of what was sure to 
happen to Jimno, and horror-stricken 
that he couldn’t help. Luria too showed 
emotion. Her’s rather was like a surgeon 
in an operating amphitheatre, watching 
a fellow surgeon at work. 

Below, Jimno walked into the pan- 
ther’s embrace. But not to his death, 
as we were imagining. I don’t know how 
he did it, but suddenly Jimno ducked. 
He must have ducked a split second be- 



fore the beast slashed at him. But Jimno 
ducked the blow. And like light Jimno 
used both hands to grasp the panther 
by the fur at the shoulder. Then setting 
his feet hard in the earth Jimno swung 
the panther about and leaped on its 
back. 

T COULDN’T help letting out a wild 
^ yell of delight. Nor was Hank far 
behind me with his cheer. Even Luria’s 
eyes shone in admiration. For Jimno 
now had the panther at a disadvantage. 
He was on the beast’s back, his fingers 
deep in the. fur, his legs wound around 
the beast’s belly. Jimno’s right hand 
came up and delivered a terrific slap 
across the panther’s face. The beast 
reared his fore claws and legs trying to 
swipe in futile swings at the man on its 
back. The more the beast clawed the 
harder Jimno slapped. At last Jimno 
won out. With a last vicious blow, Jim- 
no slid from the panther’s back and 
walked nonchalantly to where the 
women were standing. 

He walked with his shoulders square 
and his back straight and when he came 
into their midst he didn’t walk around 
them but moved as though they had 
better give him room, else he’d walk 
right over them. They moved out of his 
way all right. 

He marched up the long flight of 
stairs, saw us, and came forward to 
stand before Luria. 

“Greatness,” he said, “the deed 
to which I was sentenced has been 
done. . . 

“And well-done,” Luria said graci- 
ously. “Truly, you are a man, one 
worthy of carrying arms. Jimno, tell 
me. Would you care to be the first of 
the legions of men I am going to re- 
cruit?” 

“I would be honored.” 

“Good. In the future you and Haavah 
will share equally the burdens and joys 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



47 



of your lives. If she lays a hand to you, 
you have my express authority to strike 
back. . . 

I realized I was hearing history being 
made. These men, though not eunuchs, 
performed the same functions. 

“. . . So be it with you Jimno, and 
all men. Hear me, my lieutenants. From 
this day henceforth, all men share and 
share alike, the burdens and joys of 
women. On our return spread the news 
to the entire community. Go. You, 
Hank and Berk, stay with me. I have 
things to tell. . . 

She waited until the others had left, 
then dismounted from Mokar and 
walked to the lip of the valley and sat 
on a grassy hummock. Hank and I fol- 
lowed and sat beside her. 

"... I was awake all night,” she said. 
“Sleep would not come to me. My mind 
kept turning over and over again on the 
dilemna we are in. It is not an easy 
thing to admit defeat before it comes. 
Yet defeat is undeniable.” 

“Why?” Hank asked. 

She tossed her head and her hair 
shook free in gleaming waves about her 
face. 

“We are too few. Loko has not alone 
the majority of the tribes but the very 
ones who have kept up a semblance of 
the war-like proclivities of their prede- 
cessors. We are their superiors in spirit, 
but in war, spirit alone is not enough.” 

“So?” Hank was doing one of those 
single-syllable deals with her. I knew 
it was irritating her because it was irri- 
tating me. Of course / knew the reason 
for it. She didn’t. 

“I have tride to find a way out but 
the only one I can think of is to go to 
Loko and acknowledge his claim and 
throw myself on his mercy.” 

“If that’s the way you feel ...” Hank 
said. 

I hid a grin in my palm. She was get- 
ting a little flushed in her cheeks. Spots 



of color burned below her eyes and her 
eyes were beginning to flash in anger. 
Her right hand, lying on the grass close 
to me clenched in a small and capable 
fist. 

“Okay then,” Hank said. “Since that 
is the way you feel send us back.” 

Her hand came down in a slap at the 
earth. H,er lips set firm and hard against 
each other. 

“Very well,” she said. “I won’t hold 
you here against your wishes. As soon 
as we get back. . . .” 

TW E SAW the smudge of smoke 

’ lying low on the horizon when we 
were barely past the first hill. Luria’s 
eyes widened at the odd sight, than nar- 
rowed in sudden understanding. I guess 
I was the last to catch on and so was 
the last to urge my beast to greater 
speed. I don’t think we were very far 
from Gayno when we saw a horde of 
humans and animals coming toward us. 
In the lead, mounted on a magnificent 
panther, was Jimno. 

We drew rein and waited for the ar- 
rival of the first of the mob. Jimno 
leaped from the back of his mount, 
dashed over to us and stood silent, his 
great chest heaving in panting breath. 
We saw then that he had suffered a 
number of wounds, one of them a wide 
slash from a sharp instrument, that had 
cut through the surface flesh all the way 
across the chest. Blood dripped from 
the wound, but Jimno seemed com- 
pletely unaware of it. 

“. . . Loko,” he gasped after a second. 
He turned as the first of the hundreds 
of men, women and children streamed 
up, then brought his attention back to 
us. “Loko’s minions attacked. While we 
were in the valley of the paavans. It 
was a surprise. And before a defense 
could be organized, they had set fire to 
the whole of the city. They were too 
many and the surprise was too great. 



48 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



Many perished. These are all who were 
left. I organized the retreat. . . 

They were a pitiful few, I saw, that 
had made good their escape. My eyes 
gladdened when I saw that the girl, 
Lovah, was among them. I’ve got to 
hand it to Luria. No fumbling, no fear, 
no hesitation. 

“Then they will surely follow; per- 
haps they are not too far off. To the 
caves. Jimno, you, Lovah and Berk, 
take twenty warriors and cover the rear. 
I’ll take the others. . . 

“So get moving, stupe,” Hank yelled. 

I held both hands out emptily to show 
why I wasn’t going anywhere. Immedi- 
ately someone thrust a sword into one 
hand and a spear into the other, and to 
make matters completely at a loss for 
me Hank kicked my mount in the rump 
and Lovah, Jimno, and I were off to 
glory. 

Into the valley of death rode the 
twenty-three, I thought, as we headed 
back. Lovah reined her panther to my 
side. 

“Remember one thing,” she said as 
we rode, “your paavan is faster in every 
way than the okas they ride. It is our 
real advantage over them. You are rid- 
ing, Lipso, a well-trained animal. I 
know because I trained him. Give him 
the reins if we meet danger. And stay 
close to, my man, because this will not 
be a contest of fists.” 

Lipso was well-trained because when 
I leaned over and put my arms about 
Lovah’s waist and drew her close, he 
didn’t move an inch or slack his pace. 
I kissed her hard, perhaps not as satisfy- 
ingly as I wanted, but for the condition, 
well enough. I guessed it was the first 
time she’d ever been kissed because she 
brought one hand to her mouth in won- 
der. The most beautiful smile I’d ever 
seen came to life on those wonderful lips 
and before I knew what she was intend- 
ing, she had reached in my direction, 



hauled me to her and gave me a kiss in 
return. Years went by before I came out 
of the halo-like daze I was in. From then 
on love was the last thing on my mind. 

The dirty dogs had set the whole 
place on fire. Not only that but there 
were some who were still alive in the 
inferno. We could hear the screams of 
the poor devils. Jimno took the lead as 
though he was born to it. 

TUT IS hand shot up and we rode up 
1 A until we were a narrow circle 
about him. He gestured with his hand 
toward a stretch of trail which would 
lead us between the usual lush jungle 
growth with which I was now familiar. 

“It seems,” Jimno said in a growling 
voice, “that they are too intent on loot, 
pillage and worse, to pursue. Or perhaps 
they think we will wait their coming on 
bended knees. But soon they will think 
of those who escaped. Then will they 
ride after. There is no trail other than 
through there. . . .” 

Again I looked to the dense brush 
and narrow trail and immediately a pic- 
ture formed in mind of what could hap- 
pen were we to lay a trap. 

. . We are few but enough for what 
we can do. To face them squarely would 
be suicidal. Rather let us pair off and 
infilter through the brush but not too 
far off the trail. Our paavans move like 
shadows between the narrowest part of 
the forest. Their clumsier and slower 
beasts cannot follow. Therefore let us 
make haste and make rendezvous with 
them as they enter and harry them until 
they reach the open spaces. Then, when 
we have done with them here, let us ride 
ahead and make sure we meet them 
again later, where the forest meets the 
hills ” 

The women wore broad smiles long 
before he had finished. They needed 
nothing further in the way of command 
or instruction. Like shadows, they melt- 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



49 



ed into the greyness which bordered the 
lush growth. In a few seconds it seemed 
as though there had never been human 
or beast on the trail. Jimno, one of the 
women warriors, Lovah and myself, 
were the last to lose ourselves. 

“Give Lipso his head,” Lovah said 
as she moved forward. “He has been 
trained to follow. . . 

We wound about, our beasts moving 
in complete silence, over fallen logs, be- 
tween the boles of jungle-giants which 
pressed so closely together that it 
seemed impossible anything other than 
a snake could maneuver his way 
through. Yet the lithe black bodies man- 
aged with an ease which astounded me. 
Deeper and further into the gloomy 
green we went. As though aware of the 
impending clash, the forest life was 
stilled, not even the birds trilling their 
songs. 

Lipso and Lovah’s mount moved tail 
to snout, so close were they. I watched 
the lithe form of the woman ahead. Sud- 
denly her hand went to the scabbard 
and the long sword came into the open. 
I followed suit. I could see nothing. 
There was nothing to be seen. The 
jungle looked as impenetrable as ever. 
The sun never existed as far as I was 
concerned. We moved in an odorous 
and silent world. Then Lipso stopped 
and I became aware that Lovah was 
sitting erect and expectant. 

From somewhere ahead there came 
a grunting and squealing. The sound of 
men’s voices lifted in rough talk also 
came to our ears, but so dimly I couldn’t 
make out the words. My throat tight- 
ened so that my breath came out in a 
wheeze when I realized that the moment 
was at hand for our ambush. There was 
but a single question in my mind. How 
were we going to go about it? 

Lovar answered that question. 

Her fingers pulled lightly on the reins 
and before my startled eyes her mount 



leaped nimbly up the huge bole of a 
nearby tree. Immediately, Lipso fol- 
lowed. I clung tightly with both hands 
about the panther’s neck. Worse was to 
follow. The animals moved gingerly out 
on a limb, mine a little below and to the 
left of Lovah’s. We perched thus for 
the space of perhaps thirty seconds. I 
saw that we were almost directly above 
the narrow, twisting trail. The grunting 
sounds of the animals and the gutteral 
sounds of their riders came more dis- 
tinctly to my ears. 

They were telling each other, with a 
horrible relish, of what they had done, 
while the houses burned. . . . 

A PECULIAR series of tuneless 
whistles broke from the midst of 
the forest about us and simultaneously 
with those sounds the how of the am- 
bush was made clear to me. I saw Lo- 
vah’s thighs contract and grip close to 
the lean sides of the animal she was on. 
And the next second the panther was a 
black streak of silent fury falling 
through space. Nor was he alone. Only 
reflex came to my help, otherwise I 
would have ended up on my face in the 
grass-grown jungleland. But my thighs 
did tighten and one arm managed to 
hold the reins, as Lipso left his feet in 
a leap after the first panther. 

We leaped into the midst of some 
eight or nine mounted men. The lizard- 
elks animals they were on were squeall- 
ing wildly as Lipso and the other beast 
leaped among them, slashing with claw 
and tearing with fang. The instant we 
reached the ground Lovah shouted for 
me to dismount. Now we were on our 
own. As I slashed wildly about with the 
razor-sharp sword, I heard the sounds 
of battle all about me. But so dense was 
the underbrush and so furious the ac- 
tion, so disconnected, I got only flashes. 
But one was unforgettable. Jimno had 
engaged the largest of the enemy, a man 



so 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



51 




perhaps a foot taller than himself. 

The single glimpse I caught was of 
Jimno being pressed back into the 
jungle by the power of the other’s sword 
play. Then they were lost to my sight. 
Xor was I interested any further. Death 
and I had come to grips. The sword in 
my hand was like a broom handle for all 
I knew of its use. And these men we 
had ambushed had been trained since 
childhood to its murderous use. 



There was only one factor which 
saved me from instant extinction. We 
were fighting in brush. There simply 
wasn't room for fancy footwork and 
dexterous strokes. It was hack and chop 
and duck, and when it came to that I 
didn’t have to take a back seat to any- 
one. A lifetime spent in ducking girls 
I’d promised things to came in use. 

He got in the first chops, but he didn’t 
lick his lips from them. I ducked and 



took a couple of whacks myself. They 
were as close to the mark as Stalin and 
Taft. All the time my brain was worry- 
ing about Lovah. After all I was fight- 
ing even. She was taking on the rest. 
He came at me again, and this time I 
waited until he was a couple of feet from 
me, about the length of a sword stroke. 
The stroke I used was my favorite serv- 
ice stroke in tennis. I was a shade slow. 
But it was enough. He got his blade up 



in a parry. Holy cats, what happened 
to him should happen to the rest. Some- 
thing strange happened to Hank and 
myself in our journey from the Earth 
to this place. Our strength multiplied 
tenfold. My blade not only knocked his 
to one side but the end four inches 
sliced right through his collar bone and 
down into his chest. He let out a single 
screech and fell backward, blood foun- 
taining out from the huge wound. 



52 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



I wasted no time in sympathy. There 
were the ringing sounds of blade strik- 
ing blade not far from me. I leaped over 
a fallen log and into the place where 
Lovah was battling. She had backed up 
so that she had her shoulders to a huge 
tree. Facing her were four men. Two 
others lay in the curious positions the 
dead assume. 

jV/T Y APPROACH was silent. The 
first they knew of my presence 
was when one of them fell face forward. 
He fell straight down. He looked kind of 
funny, what with his head going one 
way and his body another. Nor did I 
waste time in watching him. Once again 
my tennis came to a more different use. 
I’d used a forehand on the first. The 
second fell into a backhand that Riggs 
would have envied. There was only one 
thing wrong with it. I clouted this char- 
acter across the chest. The blade went 
all the way into him. And stuck there. 
I yanked at it and finally stuck one 
foot up against the guy and tried to 
pull it out, but no use. It wasn’t till I 
thought of the dead man’s sticker and 
turned and picked it off the ground that 
I realized that all the time I was vul- 
nerable to attack from the other two. 

I needen’t have worried. They were 
being taken care of but good. My Lovah 
child was no mean shakes with the 
sword. Those two characters were danc- 
ing a pretty good Lindy to the tune she 
was playing. I’m sure they wanted to 
be anywhere else but where they were. 
Even as I watched she lunged with her 
sword straight out and pinked one of 
the boys right through his throat. He 
wasn’t going to swallow anything for a 
long while without it leaking out. 

“Lovah!" I screamed suddenly. 
“Watch it!” 

She had slipped on a wet spot of 
grass and in that second the other one 
was at her side. Her sword had flown 



out of her hand as she threw up her 
arms trying to maintain a balance. She 
was completely helpless and I was too 
far from her to help. There was but one 
thing to do. I lifted my sword and 
heaved it, point forward. The guy’s 
sword was already coming down when 
mine hit. It went all the way through 
him. He fell straight down over the girl. 
And from where I was standing it 
looked like I’d thrown too late. 

“Angel,” I moaned as I ran forward 
and knelt at her side. I shoved the car- 
cass of the goon who’d fallen over her, 
to one side and lifted her up. “Angel! 
Talk to me. . . 

“I will,” she said, “as soon as I get 
my breath back. Now,” she continued 
after I’d kissed her for a while, “let us 
get out of here. They’ll organize soon 
and we are too few to do more than 
we have. . . .” 

She arose and puckered her lips into 
that tuneless whistle. In a second the 
two panthers came trotting to us. Their 
snouts were stained with blood and it 
drooled from the corners of their 
mouths. They hadn’t been loafing either. 
Lovar leaped into the flat saddle and I 
followed. There was no need to give the 
animals their orders. They knew by in- 
stinct what was expected of them. 

Whirling, they loped off at top speed 
through the thick growth. In a short 
while we joined the rest at the rendez- 
vous agreed on. We took stock. Our 
entire losses were one warrior and two 
panthers. Jimno was elated. 

“We have halted them for a while. 
Now they will proceed with caution 
which was our purpose. . . . About and 
make for the hills.” 

TJ ANK had grim lines to his face. 

But they were erased at sight of 
me riding in the fore with Lovah and 
Jimno. Jimno shouted the news while 
we were still a hundred feet from the 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



53 



entire remnants of the camp. A wild yell 
of exultation went up from their throats 
at the news. Only Luria held her re- 
serve. But even she could not help but 
smile. 

They surrounded us and asked a 
hundred questions. I let Jimno take the 
stage. The guy deserved it. He had 
staged a masterful ambush and had 
gotten away with remarkably small 
losses. Hank dragged me to one side and 
pumped me dry of what had happened. 

The sound of Luria’s voice broke up 
our gab-fest. 

“Let us not waste time in useless talk. 
Jimno and the others did a good job. 
They have delayed the pursuit for a 
time. But when they realize how small 
a force opposed them they will come the 
more quickly. 

“We cannot stay here and we cannot 
go in a single body to the place where 
we will be safe. Therefore, I think it 
best to assign squad leaders to groups 
who will then take different trails to our 
eventual goal. 

“Jimno, because you have proved 
your unquestioned leadership, you will 
take the largest group, all warriors, and 
fight a rear-guard action to delay and 
harass the enemy. Wamini and Saavah 
will lead the women and children by 
the trail I have outlined, to the place 
of safety. Lovah, you will be in charge 
of the balance of the warriors, men and 
women, who will wait here until Jimno 
returns, and fight a battle with the 
enemy. But that can wait until the oth- 
ers have left.” 

It was remarkable how little confu- 
sion there was. Luria amazed Hank and 
myself in her showing of leadership. It 
just didn’t seem right that so beautiful 
a woman should have qualities that was 
rightfully man’s. In a very short time 
several lines spread from the encamp- 
ment in various directions, some toward 
the hills close by, others back in the 



direction from which we’d just come 
and one, the smallest group in a direc- 
tion at right angles to the back trail. 
This group was led by Jimno. I won- 
dered where they were going. When the 
last had left, only Hank, Luria, two of 
her personal guards, and myself were 
left. 

“And now,” Luria said turning to 
Hank and me, “we too must journey. 
Let us hope we are successful. . . 

“Why? Where are we going?” Hank 
asked. 

“To the valley of the mists. To that 
same valley where first you saw me, as 
though in a dream. There, the Groana 
Bird makes his home, and there is where 
the dread beast of flame lives. We must 
bring back the Groana Bird. . . 

“Why?” Hank asked again. 

“Because it was the symbol of my 
father’s strength. And even Loko will 
respect it and give up his pretensions. 
Remember how you were captured? He 
too wants the bird. But we have one 
thing in our favor. I know the bird’s 
haunts. He doesn’t.” 

I listened to the first part of it. Then 
my thoughts wandered. Lovah had been 
chosen to give battle to the enemy. Of 
a sudden I felt fear strike at my in- 
nards. I knew then, that I had fallen 
in love with my Amazon. And I was 
frightened. They had seemed so few, 
riding back toward, what? Their doom? 

“We have a long ride ahead, and a 
dangerous one,” Luria continued. “Talk 
wastes time. . . 

T T WAS the longest ride I’d ever been 
on. Since there was no appreciable 
change in time, I never knew what was 
what. We slept, we ate, and we rode, 
and always the sun was overhead. 

There were times for eating and 
sleeping and after a while I managed 
to gain a sort of idea from our sleeping 
habits of an approximate time. We were 



54 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



on the trail at least one week. The 
topography held to about the same 
character until about the last day. 

The first few miles of our ride after 
the awakening on what I called the sev- 
enth day, we rode through a narrow 
valley set between two high and preci- 
pitous hills. We had been in the midst 
of mountain country for a long time. 
Suddenly Luria, who was riding at the 
head of our little column, waved her 
hand to the right and swerved from the 
path she’d been riding on, to a narrow 
trail which led straight up the wall of 
the cliff. 

The trail straightened and to my hor- 
ror became part of the wall itself. Even 
a Roeky Mountain goat would have 
found it difficult traveling. Not these 
panthers, though. They moved swiftly, 
and surely along the narrow trail. Then, 
with an abruptness which took my 
breath away, the trail ended against a 
barrier of rock. I was next to last so I 
could not see what Luria was doing or 
where she was going. I saw only the 
chalky-white face of the wall towering 
over us. Lipso had stopped and was 
waiting patiently to go on. 

The panther and its mount directly 
in front of me began a slow advance 
and Lipso followed. I saw then where 
we were heading and my wonder was 
boundless. A path had been hewed like 
a tunnel directly into the cliff. And for 
the first time I knew darkness on Pola. 

It was instant. I don’t know how the 
animals managed to find their way. In- 
stinct, I suppose. But the darkness was 
too much for me. I couldn’t see my nose 
in front of my face. And since our foot- 
falls were muffled we seemed to be trav- 
eling in the silence of a tomb. 

Once more the transition from dark 
to light was instantaneous. We were in 
a shallow amphitheatre but one which 
stretched for limitless distances. We 
rode up to join Luria. She looked out 



over the mists and said in a small child- 
ish voice: 

“The valley of the mists, the lair of 
the beast. My father took me and Mo- 
kar here once in the long ago. Mokar 
has never forgotten. Look . . .” 

We followed the line of her out- 
stretched finger and an involuntary 
shiver shook my frame. Never had I 
seen a more forbidding place. The mists 
were like feathers of smoke. They filled 
the place in breath, width and height. 
Now and then the mists would part for 
an instant and black damp rock would 
show monstrous shapes like a scene 
from Hell. Strange hissing noises came 
alive to lend added terror to the pros- 
pect. Luria’s shoulders squared and 
turning to us, she said in dry, sure 
tones: 

“We gain nothing here. The Groana 
bird lies there. Let us be on our way. 
One thing. The beast of flame lies in 
wait. Watch for him.” 

There was but one trouble with be- 
ing on our way. The instant we moved 
into the mists it was like stepping into 
a thick fog. I know I was riding along- 
side one of the two huge women who 
were Luria’s personal guards. The next 
I knew, Lipso and I were alone in this 
strange and terrifying world. 

Lipso sensed it immediately and his 
steps became cautious and slow. He 
snuffled loudly nor was he alone. The 
rest of them also used their noses rather 
than their eyes. The mists would part 
now and then giving us glimpses of what 
lay beyond. It also permitted us to see 
whether we were still together. We 
weren’t. Once I saw Hank. He looked 
a bit bewildered and his head was mov- 
ing from side to side as though in search 
of Luria. The mists closed down and 
once more we groped our way through 
the fog. 

I echoed in a minor chord the sudden 
scream which arose from the mists. It 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



55 



was a human scream. And hard on its 
heels came a roar which turned me into 
a block of ice. Lipso grunted a low 
growl and his body tensed, the muscles 
bunching under me as though it was 
getting ready to spring. 

Like magic the mists parted altogeth- 
er and I saw the whole of this horren- 
dous place. We were in a grotto. Di- 
rectly in front of me was one of the 
women guards. By her side was Hank. 
I as usual was the last in the parade. 
Off to one side away from the rest was 
Luria. But all of us were looking at 
what lay before us. 

T T WAS a nightmare. The body of the 
A beast was a good thirty feet in 
length. I recognized it as the same in 
species as those we had encountered in 
the pit. But this one was the daddy of 
them all. Smoke and fire came from its 
nostrills. The great triangular head 
moved back and forth like a snake’s. 
And lying under the ridiculous paws 
was the broken body of the other 
amazon. . . . 

“Back!” Luria shouted. “I’ll take 
care of him.” 

Hank’s shout was lost in the roar 
which came from the animal’s throat. 
I was too terrified to move. I could only 
watch the spectable which followed 
with a fascinated horror. I noticed little 
things; the fact that the guard must 
have come onto the cave that was the 
beast’s lair unaware of its occupant; 
that the panther she rode must have 
thrown her in his panic to escape, be- 
cause she was lying face upward on her 
back; I saw too that the grotto was im- 
mense, the entrance being at least a 
hundred feet in height. 

Then the mists closed in again. 

Lovah’s admonition came to mind. 
That if I was ever in a spot to give 
Lipso his head. I let the reins go slack 
and the shape below me moved back 



and forth in its tracks without making 
a forward step. When the beast did go 
forward it was slowly. A rank odor so 
strong I had to hold my breath at in- 
tervals, wafted in to us from ahead. The 
roars had increased in both intensity 
and constancy. And now they were 
closer. . . . 

And again the mists lifted. 

Lipso halted in his progress. A snarl 
rose in his throat. The tableaux had 
evolved in action. Luria too must have 
stopped when the scene was obscured. 
Now she went into action. Her lovely 
body was bent forward until it seemed 
to lie along the sleek black length of the 
panther, her spear was couched low, the 
long needle-tip pointed straight for the 
beast ahead. I saw her heels dig into 
Mokar’s side. And with a ferocious 
roar, Mokar leaped forward. 

I yelped in horror as Lipso followed 
Mokar’s lead. There had been some sort 
of telepathic orders from either Mokar 
or his mistress. Because the beasts of 
Hank and the other guard also shot 
toward the beast in the grotto entrance. 
Luria reached the beast first though we 
couldn’t have been more than ten feet 
behind. The last fifteen feet Mokar left 
his feet in a tremendous bound. The 
terror ahead rose on its hind legs, the 
tiny paws waving ridiculously toward 
the woman and her mount. But the ter- 
rible snout was open and the rows of 
huge teeth were an obstacle I never 
dreamed I’d have to face, directed 
toward the foolhardy things challeng- 
ing it. 

At the very last second Mokar 
changed direction with a wondrously 
lithe movement of his body and instead 
of coming in from the front, came in 
from the side. Then Lipso was in the 
air too. Instinctively I brought my 
spear to a position similar to the one 
Luria had used. 

A violent roar of rage shook the air. 



56 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



Luria had driven her spear straight into 
the leathery skin of the beast’s throat. 
She hadn’t waited for the thing to re- 
taliate. Mokar had seen to it. His mis- 
sion accomplished, Mokar turned tail 
and leaped to safety. But Lipso wasn’t 
that fortunate. 

I was a lot more clumsy than Luria 
had been. My spear glanced off the 
thick skin and flew to one side. My 
thoughts had been on the destructive 
power of the great teeth and jaws. I’d 
forgotten about his tail. Suddenly it 
swished around and caught Lipso full 
in the side. I heard him grunt softly and 
felt the beast below me go limp. I barely 
managed to fall to one side as Lipso 
was knocked a half dozen feet by the 
blow. He lay where he fell nor did he 
so much as move a muscle. 

Now the thing had something it could 
vent its spleen on. I managed to get to 
my feet just as the beast reached me. 
I had been given a sword. I went for it 
like an outlaw goes for the Colt at his 
hip when the Marshall comes for him. 
I drew it just as I felt the beast’s rank 
breath on my face and saw the saw- 
teeth within a foot of me. I leaped to 
one side and as I did swung the long 
blade. 

r~p HE sword went right through the 
ugly snout. The most frightful roar 
of all went up and a thick terribly odor- 
ous mucous flowed out of the wound in 
a torrent. The stench of it was over- 
powering. There was a confused sound 
of shouting as I backed off a couple of 
feet. But I was strictly intent on the 
thing in front of me. It hadn’t given up 
the battle. It still had a tail and too ob- 
viously no intelligence. Though the 
wound I had given it was terrible, the 
beast seemed unaware of it. Its tail 
swished out again but this time I was 
on the watch for it. And this time I 
wasn’t alone. 



Hank’s voice was low but full of 
strength: 

“Okay, pal. Let’s go to work.” 

This time it was we who attacked. 
Hank took one side and I the other. We 
leaped in, our swords swinging with 
perhaps not the finesse of the others’, 
but certainly with better effect. For 
every time we struck, the steel plowed 
right through. Either the thickness of 
skin was deceptive or our strength was 
greater than we had ever imagined it to 
be. The whole slaughter couldn’t have 
taken more than a few seconds. The last 
of the pieces to be dissected was the 
tail. Two swipes, one a forehand the 
other a backhand, and the tail was just 
a memory for Nightmare Moe. 

In the meantime the other guard had 
joined us. Her first thrust with the spear 
had been a good one. She had managed 
to withdraw the weapon before her 
paavan leaped to safety. Now she stood 
by our side and jabbed with it like a 
probing needle. I wondered why until 
quite suddenly the beast sank down and 
rolled slowly over. The thing had a spot 
through which he could be dealt a mor- 
tal bow. The gal did it with one jab. 

We stopped our swinging and stood 
looking at each other, our breaths com- 
ing in shallow gasps. The woman, 
though the label sounded silly, towered 
over us and had the muscles of a foun- 
dry worker. Shook her head in admira- 
tion and said: 

“Truly, you two are the greatest war- 
riors in all Pola. Never have I seen such 
sword strokes. Never have I seen such 
strength. The Habasi is not faced 
calmly. And this one is truly the largest 
I have ever seen. His skin is like the 
thick bark of the Ofas tree which is 
like a metal. Yet your blades sliced him 
as though he were meat ready for the 
table. . . 

She continued to shake her head in 
wordless admiration. I noticed that 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



57 



Hank, however, was no longer basking 
in the glow of that admiration. His head 
was bent to one side. Suddenly he 
snapped the fingers of his free hand and 
whirled to me. 

“Luria! Where is she?” 

The mists seemed to have lifted with 
some degree of finality. At any rate, 
they no longer enveloped us with their 
foggy, tenuous fingers. There was noth- 
ing to be seen of Luria or Mokar. 

The wide nostrils of the woman 
spread in anger. She bent in a semi- 
crouch, as though she were sniffing a 
danger not to be seen. Hank, too, kept 
looking from one side of the tortured 
bit of ground as though he thought the 
girl had fallen among some of the rocks. 
As usual, when it came to Luria, Hank 
was the first to guess at her where- 
abouts. He gathered she hadn’t fled the 
scene. He must have also reasoned then 
that there was but one place she could 
be, the grotto that had been the Ha- 
basi’s home. 

Without a word or look, Hank 
whirled and leaped toward the entrance. 
I followed but not with as much en- 
thusiasm. In fact the woman was on 
Hank’s heels. There was a dim light as 
we came into the grotto proper. It died 
slowly until we were running in total 
darkness after the first few hundred 
feet. Suddenly, as though someone had 
turned on dim lights all over the cave, 
a radiance came to life. It wasn’t much 
but it was enough to light our way. 

XXT E WERE running on some sort of 
' V moss, for our footsteps were 
soundless. The cave was dry and rather 
cool. It led straight back and at a slight- 
ly downward grade. Suddenly we came 
against a blank wall. I mean just that. 
There were no forks in the road we had 
been running. The cave ended up 
against that blank wall. 

“What the . . Hank growled. “But 



this doesn’t make sense.” 

“Does anything in this goofy place?” 
I asked. 

“Then where did Luria go?” he 
asked. 

In the meantime the woman had been 
moving along the wall. Suddenly she 
bent and began a loud sniffling some two 
feet from the ground. 

“Mokar,” she announced, “has been 
here. His scent is strong here. . . .” 

Hank took her at her word. But me, 
I was skeptical. 

“Well,” I ventured, “then the only 
conclusion is that she vanished into thin 
air. And knowing the young lady as well 
as we do, I wouldn’t doubt it.” 

“Uh, uh,” Hank said, shaking his 
head doggedly. “There wouldn’t be any 
reason for it.” 

“No? Perhaps her old man was a 
smart guy and put this Groana Bird in 
a place where only his daughter could 
get at it.” 

“Then why did he keep it a secret?” 
Hank asked. 

I had no answer for that. 

In the meantime the woman had been 
busy. Her fingers tapped the surface, 
ran lightly across the face, as though in 
search of some crack not seen by the 
eyes. Suddenly she let out a bark of 
triumph. We stepped quickly to her 
side. 

“What’s up?” I asked. 

For an answer she slammed the palm 
of her hand against the rock. It spun 
away from her and before our aston- 
ished eyes we saw a long narrow room, 
high-ceilinged and with walls of natu- 
ral rock. At the far end we saw Mokar 
loling at his ease. Of Luria, nothing was 
to be seen. Of course we realized what 
had happened. The wall swung on a 
pivot. Luria’s bodyguard had reasoned 
that since the trail ended there it had to 
continue beyond. Her sense of smell had 
told her that Mokar had come to that 



58 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



point. Unless they had disappeared into 
air, they had to be somewhere beyond 
the wall. 

Hank was first to step through. I fol- 
lowed and the woman brought up the 
rear. We saw it simultaneously. In one 
corner of the room was an immense bird 
cage. Luria stood beside it crooning 
something to a brilliantly colored bird 
which rocked back and forth on a perch. 
She turned, saw us, smiled a welcome, 
and turned back to the bird. We came 
over and ranged ourselves beside the 
girl. I looked at the bird with curiosity. 

They could call it what they wanted, 
Groana Bird, holy bird, or anything 
else. As far as I was concerned it was 
a polly. Hank had the same sentiments. 

“A cockatoo,” he said in a low voice. 

“Aah, shut up,” the bird suddenly 
screached. 

“Shut up yourself,” Hank blazed. 

“Okay, if that’s what you want,” the 
bird said. 

Luria turned an angry face to us. 

“And just when I had soothed the 
Groana Bird,” she said through slitted 
lips. “I could, I could . . her voice 
trailed off in helpless syllables. 

“Groana, Shmoana,” I said. “What is 
this? He’s nothing but a parrot. What’s 
all the fuss about?” 

“Yeah,” the parrot said. “What’s all 
the fuss for?” 

“Do you mean,” Hank asked, “that 
this is the holy bird your father held in 
such high esteem?” 

“The wisest animal in the whole 
world,” Luria said. “What he says be- 
comes law. We must bring him back 
with us.” 

“So okay,” I said. “Only let’s get out 
of this dungeon. It’s beginning to give 
me the creeps.” 

I had a swell idea. That is until they 
began searching for the door to open 
the cage and discovered there was none. 
The bars were set close enough to hold 



the bird prisoner. I wondered how they 
had placed him inside. The bird 
watched our parade around his cage 
with cocked head and jaundiced eye. 
After a few moments of it he broke out 
in his raucous voice: 

“Let’s not keep up this silly dance. 
Besides, I’m getting hungry. Let’s get 
me out of this place.” 

“I’d like to twist that fool head of 
yours from those feathers,” I said 
viciously. 

“Ha-ha!” the bird crowed. “So would 
a lot of them. So come and get me. . . .” 

T SAW red then. I saw a lot of other 
1 colors, all on the bird, and I had a 
wild desire to tear that bird in two. I 
stalked forward, grabbed the bars and 
twisted, even though I knew I was be- 
ing foolish. After all, even a dope like 
me could see they were made to hold 
something a lot stronger than a bird. 
But I was mad . . . 

They bent as though they were made 
of spaghetti. There was a last raucous 
crow of delight, a flash of color past 
my eyes and the voice of the bird behind 
me: 

“Thanks, pal. I was getting tired of 
being a bird in a cage. Me, without no 
gilt . . 

I whipped around and there was our 
little feathered friend perched on the 
shoulder of Luria. I was still seeing red. 
I gave him a fiendish look (I hoped) 
and stalked toward the two. Luckily, 
Hank stopped me. 

“Aah, let ’im come,” the bird said. 
“I’ll tear ’im in two, or three. I got 
lots of numbers.” 

“But only one life, bird. You ain’t a 
cat. Just remember that,” I mumbled 
darkly. 

The parrot cocked his head to one 
side, gave Luria a sidelong look from his 
bright eyes and said: 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



59 



“Where’d you find the squares, beau- 
tiful? What dopes! Especially the one 
who talks.” 

“Oh, Groana Bird,” Luria said. “We 
have searched long for you. The days 
are dark on Pola since my father left to 
join his soul-mates . . 

That blasted bit of feathers and beak 
just couldn’t keep quiet. 

“That’s what I kept tellin’ the old 
boy. Better watch your knittin’ or 
they’re gonna take that sweater apart 
before you’re through with it. So he 
perled when he shoulda knit and see 
what happened. But like yap-jaw says, 
this dungeon’s beginning to give me the 
creeps. And I’ve been here a lot longer 
than he. So . . 

Luria’s sigh of happiness, as she 
turned and started back, was like a song 
to Hank. He stepped close to her side 
and grinned down at her from his van- 
tage of two inches with a grin that had 
it been wider would have set his ears 
on the other side of his head. Oh, well, 
I thought, now that the worst is over 
and we ain’t got nothing else to do ex- 
cept pick up the marbles, maybe she’ll 
send us back and I can finish that story 
for Fa . . . 

* * * 

They whistled up the dead woman’s 
paavan for me and with the bird still 
perched on Luria’s shoulder we started 
on the way back. Once more we moved 
through the valley of the mists but this 
time the terror was gone. Again we came 
to the tortuous path along the shoulder 
of the steep mountain side. And this 
time, like with all dangers circumvented, 
it seemed not quite so frightening. I 
even found myself whistling as the 
sleek, sure-footed panthers trotted 
along. We passed a twisted tree I re- 
membered was not far from where we’d 
come off the main trail. And in a very 
short while we were on the broad trail 
leading back to Gayno. 



At ease, now, I noticed things which 
had escaped me before. To our right 
some hundred yards, a wide river fol- 
lowed a winding path and now and 
then I could see the swirling muddy 
waters. To our left the grass grew thick 
and rank, sometimes higher than a 
paavan’s shoulder. I remembered how 
the women rose from the midst of grass 
like this and thought what an excellent 
ambush it would make. We were run- 
ning on what I called, a path. I called it 
that for want of another name. Really 
it was a flattened area among the other 
grasses. 

Soon we came to the short bit of 
parkland which once traversed, would 
lead us to the wider path back to Gayno. 
The path wound among the trees for 
perhaps a mile. Then we saw open 
reaches and shortly the trees thinned 
and we were racing in the open again. A 
soft wind ruffled my hair, the air was 
not too warm and the sun held a bright- 
ness which unlike ours did not irritate. 
For the first time in this strange land 
I felt peace. But not for long. 

'T’HERE must have been a thousand 
of them. They descended on us like 
flies. Luria was the first to see them. 
Some sixth sense warned her of their 
proximity, for suddenly she drew Mo- 
kar up sharp, raised a hand on high as 
a signal to halt, and as the ambush 
rose about us, shouted a warning. But 
it was of no avail. 

We had been running with some five 
yards between each rider. There was no 
chance to get to Luria. I found myself 
surrounded by dozens of Loko’s men. I 
glimpsed Captain Mita up ahead close 
to Luria. Then hands were reaching for 
my bridle. I had no chance to get my 
sticker out but my fists weren’t tied 
down. I must have knocked ten of them 
silly before someone thought to use the 
hilt of a sword on my noggin. I saw 



60 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



more stars than the heavens held, and in 
a twinkling the darkness of uncon- 
sciousness. 

I was being joted like a monkey on 
a stick. My head rocked from side to 
side like someone was using it for a 
metronome. I had been strapped to 
what was undoubtedly the worst smell- 
ing man in all Pola. His stench was un- 
bearable. I peered through bleared eyes 
at a long line of warriors strung out 
ahead of us. I managed to turn my head 
and saw that the line behind us was al- 
most as long. 

There was someone ahead swearing 
a blue streak. I couldn’t make the words 
out but it didn’t take long for me to 
recognize the voice. Good old Groana! 
He was telling them a thing or two. A 
lot of good it was doing, I thought. This 
time we wouldn’t get off so easy. What 
was more, Loko had Luria now. I be- 
gan to wonder what he wanted of her. 

We came to a fork in the road which 
had widened, and took the right turning. 
After a while we came to a broad mead- 
owland. Tents had been set up in well- 
laid sections like streets or, suddenly I 
knew what, a military encampment. To 
our right as we entered, was a stockade 
where I saw a huge number of the 
strange beasts they used. Sentries were 
posted every few yards. Their disci- 
pline was excellent. The warriors de- 
ployed to their respective areas, leaving 
some ten to guard us as we followed 
Captain Mita, the giant who had 
slapped me around, and Loko. We drew 
up before the most pretentious of the 
tents. This proved to be Loko’s personal 
quarters. 

They had to cut me loose from the 
guy I was with and whoever did the 
cutting didn’t give a hang whether or 
not he got some skin with it. In fact 
he laughed heartily as I yelped more 
than once when the sticker drew blood. 
But the moment I was on my feet all 



merriment ceased. The point of the 
man’s sword tickled my spine all the 
way into the shady confines of the tent. 

The appointments were simple, a 
couple of easy chairs of good design, 
with cushions for seats; several benches 
of plain wood, and a dozen low hassocks 
scattered about served for seats. The 
back wall of the tent was guarded by 
five men and a like number of women- 
warriors. They stood stiffly at attention, 
spears held firmly in one hand while the 
other was at their hip in readiness to 
grab at the sword if needed. 

Loko and the big guy found seats side 
by side at the far end of the tent. Loko 
grunted tiredly and said: 

“My years are too many for these 
strenuous doings. Ye have given me a 
merry chase. Perhaps it was well that ye 
escaped the pit. For surely we would not 
have found our quarry so easily. And 
better, the prize she carried. Ho, guard, 
bring the holy bird to me. . . .” 

tttE WERE standing in a close 
’ ’ group, Hank, Luria, her guard and 
myself. The bird was still perched on 
Luria’s shoulder. We had been stripped 
of weapons. As the guard stepped to 
Luria’s side Hank took a single step 
forward and knocked the character 
right on his seat. 

“Atta boy. Hit ’im one for me,” the 
Groana shouted raucously. “Kick ’im in 
the slats.” 

Loko’s voice was low, seemingly 
without anger, yet I felt a shiver: 

“Ye have used force before. Shall we 
be compelled to answer in the same?” 
“No!” Luria’s answer was a clarion 
call. “Enough of force. For hundreds 
of years Pola has known nothing else. 
You decry the use of it yet never feel 
any compunctions about using it when 
it avails you best. By my father’s name 
I swear the bird will avail you nought. 
There are other means of freeing Pola 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



61 



from your tyranny.” 

I wanted to cheer. For the first time 
I felt an admiration based on valid 
reasons, for Luria. She was all right. 

The big guy up there with Loko 
thought so too. He let out a wordless 
bellow and rose to his feet. 

“By the Groana Bird!” he shouted. 
“Loko. Your word. I want that woman, 
hear me?” 

“Over my dead body!” came the 
answer from my side. It was good old 
Hank. Good old Hank and his good old 
big yap. Wasn’t he ever going to learn 
to keep it closed? He got the only reply 
the other character could have given. 

“I shall be only too glad to arrange 
that,” the big guy said. 

“Enough, Wost!” Loko broke in. 
“Brawls are for those in their cups. Save 
it for then. Now then. Enough of this. 
Bring the bird up here.” 

This time no one raised either fist 
or voice when two of the guards 
stepped out and took the bird from 
Luria’s shoulder. The one who was car- 
rying the bird carried it gingerly and 
when he got to Loko handed it to the 
old man with fingers that shook palpa- 
bly. There was the strangest look of 
triumph on Loko’s face as he got the 
bird. 

“Now,” and this time his voice was 
raised in ecstasy, “now I shall rule. By 
the sign of the Holy Groana Bird. By 
the sign of his feathers, by the sign of 
his wisdom and by the sign of my pos- 
session. . . 

“Aah, nuts,” said the parrot unex- 
pectedly. 

“Holy Bird,” Loko said in tones of 
awe, as though the goofy parrot had 
said something beyond his comprehen- 
sion, “say more in your infinite wis- 
dom.” 

“Is this character square?” the bird 
asked. “Why don’t he get the score 
straight? Boy, oh boy! How did this 



oldy get dealt in?” 

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe you 
can arrange his getting dealt out?” 
“That’s allroony with me, allreeti, 
allreeti,” Groana Gaillard said. 

J^OKO kept shifting his glance from 
the bird to me and back again as 
we carried on. His fingers tapped nerv- 
ously together in constant motion and 
his brow showed irritable corrugations 
in his effort to understand. 

“What does he say?” Loko asked me 
in petulant tones. 

“Ingimsay an ongsay,” Hank shot at 
me from the side of his mouth. 

“The Holy Bird says,” I began as 
portentiously as I could, “that he is 
weary and needs rest.” 

“But of course,” Loko made haste to 
fall in to the suggestion. “May he for- 
give an old man’s stupidity. Many, 
many years have passed in his incar- 
ceration. May the memory of the man 
who enslaved him become dust in our 
mouths, a stench in our nostrils.” 
“Gadzooks!” Groana Pistole said. 
“The varlet needs a cup to wander in. 
’Pon my soul ! An’ by my Lud Harry, 
with whom I spent many a roistering 
night, get him one and fill it with the 
dregs of the grape so that Merry Eng- 
land shall have peace this day.” 

“Peace? Peace?” Loko said. “He de- 
sires peace?” 

“Aah! Shut up!” the bird said and 
bent and nipped Loko on the lobe of 
the nearest ear. 

“He means quiet,” I said. “And if I 
am allowed a word . . .?” 

Loko held one hand to his wounded 
ear and said: 

“Say on. . . 

I decided that formality was the note 
to strike. Loko liked it well: 

“The Holy Bird has some small af- 
fection for the girl. Since it is obvious 
she cannot escape, perhaps it were best 



62 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



that he stay with her.” 

“No! I do not trust her. Further, she 
is, as are the rest of you, my prisoners. 
I have as yet not decided the disposi- 
tion I intend of ye.” 

“ ’Tis a sorry day f’r the Irish, me 
lad,” Groana Fitzgerald said. “An’ sure 
an’ if it’s the last act of me life I’ll kiss 
the Blarney Stone on me hands and 
knees but let me have a chance at a 
shillalah. . . 

“You see, Loko,” I said in triumph, 
“another word, a single syllable of de- 
nial to his desires, and he promises to 
call on the holy Blarney Stone. Believe 
me. Woe betide anyone accursed by the 
Stone.” 

Loko blanched to the color of wet 
ivory at the words. The only one of the 
three, Loko, Mita and Wost, who 
showed no alarm at the words, was 
Wost. But then he was probably too 
dull-witted to know fear. 

“But of course, of course the Holy 
Bird can stay with the girl,” Loko said 
quickly. “I was but thinking of its se- 
curity.” 

“Is that schmoe kidding?” Groana 
Hope asked. 

“What does he say? What does he 
say?” Loko asked. He was like a kid 
before a mike without a quizmaster. 

“He says he’s tired and wants to 
rest,” I said. 

“Assuredly. Assuredly,” Loko said, 
shaking hands and head at the same 
time. “The time for sleep has come. 
Captain Mita. Escort the prisoners.” 

“Guests might be a better word,” I 
said, being brave all of a sudden. 

For the first time Loko showed anger. 
His eyes blazed for an instant, then hid 
themselves behind hooded lids. His 
voice held an icy edge when he said: 

“Prisoners. . . . Do not try my pa- 
tience. . . .” 

I shrugged my shoulders in a ges- 
ture of bravery I certainly didn’t feel. I 



knew I was shaking, quivering in fear, 
yet somehow, I managed to say in quite 
normal tones: 

“Okay. Let it be like you say. Only 
let’s stop with all this talk. I said the 
bird was tired. Do we have to talk some 
more about that?” 

“Take them to their quarters,” Loko 
bit out. 

Captain Mita and his men played es- 
cort. It was just to another tent, one 
not too far from Loko’s. There was no 
question, however, that we were going 
to be prisoners. Mita posted enough 
guards around the tent to guard an 
army. They stood shoulder to shoulder 
in a huge square, and within that square 
another, these, backs to the others, and 
also shoulder to shoulder. 

This tent didn’t have the accommo- 
dations Loko’s had. It was not to be 
expected. But there were several cush- 
ions. Luria and her personal guard took 
those. I hid a smile. Here were a couple 
of dames who were doing their best to 
act like men yet used a woman’s per- 
rogative immediately the chance pre- 
sented itself. Hank and I found the 
ground hard but not too much so. 

Very soon after we made ourselves 
comfortable the feeling for sleep mani- 
fested itself. It was a strange thing, this 
feeling for sleep. There was no night 
or day on Pola since the sun shone all 
the time. And the business of sleep was 
as regulated an affair as though there 
had been passed a law about it. One’s 
eyes became heavy, one’s every muscle 
felt an odd relaxing and very soon aft- 
erward one simply relaxed somewhere 
and went to sleep. 

The strangest part of it all was that 
sleep was instantaneous all over Pola. 
It was not up to the individual as to 
when he slept. When one slept, all slept. 

\ WAKENING, too, took place si- 
multaneously. I yawned once or 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



63 



twice, arose and stretched and looked 
at the others. The parrot blinked its 
eyes, cocked its head and said: 

“Well, bless our little. . . . Say! how’s 
about putting on the feed bag, kids?” 
Luria and the other woman looked 
to me. And I suddenly became aware 
that I had been relegated to the par- 
rot’s interpreter. Not that Hank 
couldn’t understand, but I had assumed 
the position in Loko’s headquarters. I 
wasn’t too happy about it. But I wasn’t 
in any position to do anything about it 
now. 

“He just wants to eat,” I said sourly. 
“Something wrong in that?” the bird 
asked. “Or am I supposed to live on 
air?” 

“Aah, don’t get so fussy,” I said. 
“How did you manage in that cave?” 
“It was like this, short, dark and 
ugly,” the bird said. “Believe it or not, 
I was in a trance.” 

“So put yourself back in a trance 
again, and forget about feeding that 
ugly face of yours,” I said. 

I ducked just in time. Before the last 
word had left my lips, Luria leaped for 
me. She swung a little late. Hank got 
there before she could swing again. She 
was white-faced in anger. 

“I listened to him berate the Holy 
Bird yesterday and could barely contain 
my anger. I did so because he is your 
friend. But I can no longer contain my 
anger.” 

“Daughter. . . . Daughter. . . .” 

We all looked to the parrot, who at 
Luria’s sudden move had hopped to the 
hassock for safety. He was using a new 
voice now. Low, deep, flexible, it was a 
caressing voice, yet not a weak one. It 
brought Luria up short. I heard her 
whisper, “Father.” Then the bird was 
talking again: 

“Have all my teachings been in vain? 
Is anger the only vessel of those which 
1 had placed at your disposal, the one 



to be used? Anger blinds one’s senses, 
disturbs the delicate balance of reason, 
and as I once said, should only be used 
as a dart is used, for purposes of irri- 
tation. 

“Surely is your predicament great. 
Surely is the hand of the traitor, Loko, 
heavy on your shoulders. He seeks the 
enslavement of all Pola, yet in your 
womanly manner you seek quarrels. 
Bend all your energies to the frustra- 
tion of his desires and ambitions. Use 
these two whom you have brought from 
another plane of time and space to your 
help. Waste not their uses in arguments. 
Once I taught you the eyes, ears, nos- 
trils, and all other physical senses can 
be tamed and put to the purpose for 
which they were intended. How little 
understanding was given to my teach- 
ings. . . .” 

“No, father!” Luria breathed sharp- 
ly. “No. . . .” 

“Perhaps. But had you been alert in 
all your being, surely you would have 
understood the badinage between this 
man and myself. Silence would have 
been my weapon had I been displeased. 
But I think altogether, that perhaps the 
true reason for your lack of understand- 
ing lies in your having forgotten some- 
thing I once said in your hearing. 

“Daughter. Do you remember a day 
you walked into a council meeting? You 
sat at my feet and heard me tell them 
about the Holy Groana Bird. It was the 
first you heard of it. It was also the first 
they heard of it. I told them that in this 
bird was all the wisdom, past, present 
and future. Then, as you sat and 
watched I called for a slave to bring 
the bird forth. They marveled at the 
strange creature, for never had they 
seen one with such plumage. That very 
afternoon I spoke to you about trans- 
migrations of bodies in space and time. 
You were old enough, wuse enough and 
learned enough even then to add to- 



64 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 




gether the ingredients of the pot and 
come to the proper conclusion. 

“For why, you should have asked, 
has there never been another such bird 
found? And how is it possible that this 
bird alone, of all the feathered beings 
in the world, is possessed of so much 
wisdom? I thought you understood. I 
was wrong. However, that is in the past. 
The present is bleak indeed. Therefore 



let us speak of the future. Loko has 
naught but ill in his bosom for all of 
you. Death lies across the threshold. 
How shall we circumvent him?” 

T ITTLE by little as the bird contin- 
J “ / ued with his talk, we had drawn up 
close around him. We were a very tight 
circle about the hassock on which he 
stood perched. 



,\i a 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



65 




anger on her face, and 
just as her fist shot by 
aware of the loud cries 
s it rose into the air . . . 




66 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Daughter. Many years were spent 
in the teaching of the paavan I gave 
you. Mokar has the instincts of a wild 
animal. But he has been taught reason. 
Almost to the capacity of a human. He 
as well as the mounts of Loko’s min- 
ions, is in the stockade at the begin- 
ning of the encampment. Send a thought 
wave to him. Tell him to escape and 
bring the rescuers to us . . 

I glanced over my shoulder and saw 
that Luria had her eyes closed. In a sec- 
ond she opened them and smiled. She 
shook her head as though she had fol- 
lowed her father’s instructions. 

. . Then let us wait as best we can 
the coming of Jimno and the others. For 
I think Loko has thought over the ar- 
guments of your friend and has decided 
it were best I were with him.” 

The bird must have been psychic. 
The words were scarcely out of his 
mouth when the tent flaps were thrown 
back and Mita entered at the head of a 
squad of men. Without a word he 
marched up and swept his hand down 
and grabbed up the bird. The bird let 
out a frightened squawk but before he 
could utter another sound Mita drew a 
hood from his belt and threw it over the 
parrot’s head. In the meantime his 
squad stood guard with drawn swords 
over us. We had no chance to do any- 
thing about it. 

“Tell Loko,” Luria said as Mita was 
about to leave, “that it will do him no 
good. The Holy Bird has a will of its 
own. . . 

Mita smiled craftily. 

“I do not doubt that,” he said softly. 
But it is only a bird. If none but Loko 
hears the pearls of wisdom from its lips 
who will deny them?” 

“I will,” Luria said stoutly. 

“A carcass has no voice or reason,” 
Mita said, grunted softly at the star- 
tled looks on our faces, and left. 

“Why, those dirty, dirty. . . Hank 



snarled and became silent for fear that 
his words would offend their ears. 

But I was way ahead of them. So that 
was Loko’s game. I had to admire the 
old character’s shrewdness. All he had 
to do was slit the bird’s tongue. Then 
who was there to say that Loko hadn’t 
heard what he said he did? The bird 
wasn’t going to be able to talk for itself. 
And we wern’t going to be in any posi- 
tion, at least not until the dead can be 
resurrected, to be able to deny what 
Loko said. 

Hank was pounding a fist into a 
palm. His grey-green eyes were bleak, 
and his face had that stony look of in- 
tense anger. I could almost read his 
mind. Evidently Luria also could. 

“There’s no use in empty and useless 
speculations or threats,” she said. “We 
are helpless until help arrives. So let 
us be of good cheer.” 

“But how do you know help will 
come?” Hank asked. 

She smiled and I thought of the Mona 
Lisa. “Mokar will not fail us,” she said. 
“Mokar . . .?” 

“He is well on his way.” 

“But that stockade,” Hank said. 
“How was he able to, to . . .? But of 
course,” understanding came to him, “I 
only hope he will make it in time. I 
think Loko won’t give us too much of 
that commodity.” 

I stuck my two cents in: 

“And Loko’s just the sort of guy 
who’d keep us on tenterhooks, draw the 
time out, let us think that maybe he 
won’t cut our throats or whatever 
they’re going to do, until the last second. 
Somehow, though, I have an idea that 
it won’t be too soon.” 

A deep sigh turned our attention to 
the gigantic woman who was standing 
by Luria’s side. 

“What’s wrong, Sanda?” Luria 
asked. 

“I’m hungry,” was the simple reply. 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



“The big gal talks sense,” I said. “So 
am I.” 

T> UT food wasn’t to come for a long 
time. We sat around, lay around, 
talked, kept quiet, did everything to 
make the time pass more quickly. Luria 
and Hank got together in a corner and 
found things in common. I gathered 
without being told, that Hank was 
pitching woo at her and from the look 
on her face she wasn’t finding it hard 
to take. But me, I was lost. The other 
member of our party was built along 
the lines of an overweight wrestler. Be- 
sides, she was a little short of the grey 
matter. About all there was for me was 
some silent philosophy. And that’s 
pretty difficult to do in my position. 

When food did come there was 
enough of it to feed an army. 

“Like we’d asked for a last meal,” 
Hank said. 

I was taking a bite on something that 
tasted pretty good. But at that I kind 
of lost my appetite. 

“Why don’t you gag yourself?” I 
asked. 

“How about you doing it?” he want- 
ed to know. 

“I got both hands busy, dope,” I 
said. 

“So why don’t you try eating with 
your feet? Ten fingers aren’t enough for 
you.” 

“Look, sponge-head,” I began edgily. 
I didn’t like the tone of his voice. “I 
didn’t ask to come along on the ride. So 
don’t play Sad-Sack for my benefit. . . .” 

“Oh, hell, Berk,” he said. “I’m 
sorry.” 

“Dont be square,” I said quickly. 
“That was no joke, son.” 

The two women kept giving us won- 
dering glances. Luria could understand 
the King’s English, but our version was 
over her head. The other gal was just 
size, no quality, except in muscle, of 



67 

course. Suddenly the thought came to 
me how to make time pass. Talk, I had 
discovered long ago, is the finest de- 
vourer of time. 

“Y’know,” I said, “I’ve always been 
curious as to how you managed this 
business of, now I’m here, now I’m not. 
Just how do you do it?” 

Tiny furrows formed between her 
eyebrows as she concentrated in an ex- 
planation which would be simple 
enough, yet explanatory: 

“Oddly enough,” she said, “it’s a 
great deal more simple than you would 
imagine. Yet in one sense, more com- 
plex. You see, the whole thing is a mat- 
ter of, shall we say, mind over mat- 
ter. . . .” 

“So you said and you’re glad,” I 
broke in. “Elucidate on this bit of men- 
tal gymnastics.” 

“. . . But because it is mind triumph- 
ing over matter the explanation is far 
more difficult than, say, the process of 
digestion,” she went on as though there 
hadn’t been an interruption. 

“Now I understand,” I said. “How 
simple the whole thing is, dear. But 
you’re so clever. . . .” 

“Let her be, Berk,” Hank said. “Go 
on, baby.” 

“Baby?” The word wasn’t new to her 
but its connotation in the sense Hank 
gave, was. 

“A term of endearment,” I said. “But 
as Hank says, go on.” 

“Yes-s. . . . Well. I simply think the 
object or person into another dimension 
of space and time. And that is the whole 
thing put as simply as I can.” 

“Fine. I don’t get it! Tell me this 
now. When we first saw you, you were 
dressed in clothes very much the same 
as the women wear on our planet. 
How’d you do that?” 

“I realized the instant the transposi- 
tion took place and I saw the manner 
of dress of your women that I would be 



68 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



taken for a stranger. Not knowing the 
customs of your planet or country, I 
knew I had to do something about it. 
So I . . .” 

VtOW wasn’t that like a woman, I 
' thought. Give her a joke to tell and 
she’s a cinch to forget the pay line ; give 
her a story and at the most interesting 
part she’ll get that far-away look like 
as if she’d just remembered something 
she saw in a blouse and couldn’t quite 
remember the shop. It was Hank, how- 
ever, who nudged her on: 

“So you what?” 

“I lost my material self,” she said. 

I thought I heard right. But I wanted 
to make sure: 

“You dood? Lucky you found it. 
What do you mean?” 

“I mean I was no longer flesh and 
blood. For example, the outfit I wore. 
I got that from a shop on a city avenue. 
I remember it was dark and I simply 
walked in through the masonry and 
glass, took the outfit I wanted and left. 
It was not the time for sleep so I walked 
about. I also remember an experiment I 
performed. This disappearance of ma- 
terial self was new to me. There was a 
man coming toward me. I walked 
straight at and through him. I remem- 
ber it so well because he was with a 
woman and they were holding a conver- 
sation. He did not lose a word as I 
stepped through him.” 

So there were ghosts. They all come 
from Pola. H’m. Could that mean there 
was no Heaven, no Hell, just Pola? Aah. 
What was I thinking? Hank, it devel- 
oped, wasn’t thinking what I was. 

“How simple it all is,” he said. “All 
you have to do is dematerialize, step 
through the tent and escape.” 

“I thought of that and . . . No. We 
are all in this together. So we’ll remain.” 
“But Loko will put you to death,” 
Hank pointed out. 



“When that bridge is on us we’ll 
think about the crossing. Let us wait 
to see what Mokar brings.” 

“I don’t know what he’s bringing,” I 
said. “But I hope he makes it fast. My 
patience is running out.” 

“Then you’ll have to renew it,” Luria 
said sharply. “Mokar might have come 
to Jimno in the midst of an engagement. 
What’s more, they have to be certain 
that the children are in a safe place; 
that there will be enough guards; then 
they must locate Lovah and her 
force. . . .” 

“Lovah? Coming here?” I asked. 
“But of course. Jimno’s forces will 
not be enough.” 

The whole situation was bathed in a 
new light. I was light-hearted Joe, 
ready for a lark or a wrestle, but now 
that my Lovah-honey was going to be 
involved — well! Things were shaping 
up. And not to my liking, either. 

“But holy cats!” I said. “Even with 
Lovah’s warriors there won’t be enough 
to make a decent fight.” 

“It will be a combination of several 
factors,” she pointed out. “In the first 
place there will be the element of sur- 
prise; secondly, Jimno and Lovah will 
not attack from the same direction; and 
thirdly, there is the factor of the 
paavans. . . .” 

I asked what they had to do with it. 
“They were bred not for riding 
alone. Wait,” she promised. “You will 
see how terrible they can be.” 

Hank got to whispering to her again 
so I sat in my little corner and digested 
what she told me. Maybe we had a 
chance. Then I got to thinking of the 
parrot and how she was going to man- 
age to get him out of Loko’s clutches. 
Hang it! I kept thinking of the bird as 
a material being. It was Luria’s father, 
of course. Then I thought how silly that 
was, especially if one said it aloud. 
Then I stopped thinking. 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



69 



Again time marched on. Suddenly I 
saw Luria place her hand to Hank’s 
lips. He stopped talking and I stopped 
dreaming. She had heard something, 
something to which our Earthly ears 
were not attuned. She arose with a 
movement akin to one of her paavans, 
she rose lithely and stepped toward the 
tent opening. The rest of us followed 
suit. 

“They come,” she whispered. “I hear 
them in my mind. I don’t know their 
plans, so be prepared for anything.” 

0 HE warned us. But what happened 
^ was the last thing I thought would 
happen. Fire arrows . . .1 

There must have been hundreds of 
them. They fell with tiny hissing sounds 
and whatever they touched burst into 
flame. In an instant the entire com- 
pound was a mass of fire and smoke. 
But we didn’t wait to see what was go- 
ing to happen next. Not us. We were the 
Rover Boys and gals, and we roved but 
fast, to hell and gone out of there. 

A torment of sound stuck our ear- 
drums as we hit the open air. There were 
the terror-stricken sounds of men and 
women caught in the inferno, and above 
those were the horrible screams of ani- 
mals tied to stakes and unable to es- 
cape. A pungent acrid odor came to my 
nostrils, an odor hard to place until I 
brought to mind a roast that had be- 
come too well-done. 

I was just standing, listening open- 
mouthed to the horror around me, when 

1 heard a wild scream of exultation al- 
most in my right ear. I pivoted and saw 
Luria, her face transfigured, looking 
straight down the avenue formed by the 
rows of tents. I understood her cry of 
triumph when I saw what was sweeping 
down the avenue. Mokar, riderless, was 
in the lead and directly behind him was 
Lovah and Jimno riding neck and neck 
in a wild race to get to us first. 



Mokar paused only long enough for 
Luria to mount and get Hank up behind 
her and then, headed straight for the 
center tent, Loko’s quarters. Lovah, 
looking like one of the Valkerie, only 
prettier, paused long enough for me to 
get on behind, then she was off after her 
queen. She handed me one of the two 
swords she held clenched in each of her 
dainty, though dangerous, fists. 

She raised hers on high and screamed '. 

“For the Queen! Death to Loko and 
his!” 

But it wasn’t quite that easy. Cap- 
tain Mita and the giant were no stupes. 
They were caught flat-footed, shocked 
with surprise. But it didn’t last long. 
Only long enough for them to start a 
dispersal of their forces. And the first 
thing they did, as though they realized 
the whole purpose of the attack, was 
to ring Loko’s tent with guards. We 
rode, like the six hundred, into the jaws 
of death. 

I don’t know how many Luria had 
at her disposal; I had no chance to 
count even if I wanted to, but certainly 
they weren’t many. We hit the outer 
shell of the ring with the force of a bat- 
tering ram, broke through and were 
swallowed by the inner rings. And, baby, 
were those guys and gals tough! Loko 
hadn’t picked these babies for their 
kindness to their fellow-beings. They 
played the woodchoppers ball pretty 
good with their stickers. 

By some quirk of fate Loko’s tent 
was one of several the fire-arrows had 
missed. All around us the other tents 
blazed in fury. I caught a quick glimpse 
of them, then had no time for anything 
but the defense of my life and Lovah’s 
too. Her arm was swinging a death tune 
to whoever was within reach of that 
terrible plaything. As for me, I was also 
swinging, maybe not with the assurance 
or ease of Lovah, but with as terrible 
effect. As I said before, I had discovered 



70 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



a strange thing about Pola. My strength 
was multiplied ten-fold for some rea- 
son, and though I did not always hit a 
vulnerable spot, the power of my blow 
when it did land was enough to decide 
the issue immediately. 

But there was only one of me and 
Hank. The sheer weight of their num- 
bers, plus the addition of reinforce- 
ments which kept arriving, lost us the 
encounter. A shrill whistling sound was 
suddenly heard and Lovah’s face turned 
to mine with a dismal look of despair 
on it. I heard her words: 

“Retreat! Luria calls retreat. . . .” 

't'HEN her mount’s head was turned 
and we were racing like the wind 
back down the avenue of tents for the 
open ground beyond. We raced into the 
flat and kept running. I kept turning 
my head and saw Jimno. My heart 
leaped in my throat in sudden terror. I 
couldn’t spot Hank or the girl. My pulse 
raced in time to the bounding paces of 
Lovah’s paavan when I saw them at 
last. They were the last two out of the 
compound. Like a true queen, Luria had 
waited till the last of her subjects were 
away before she retreated. 

We continued running at top speed 
for quite some time. As we raced on- 
ward endlessly Lovah gave me a resume 
of what had happened: 

“Jimno is wonderful. A born leader. 
He caught the rear guards who had been 
left in town flat-footed. They hadn’t a 
chance, and we mashed them to bits. 
Then we did an abount face, ran in dif- 
ferent directions, met at the rendezvous 
and made for the groups which we 
knew would be scouring the countryside 
for us. One by one we smashed them 
until at the end they were forced to 
join together. That was the moment for 
the third part of our forces to strike. 
The enemy was tired; we had fought 
them to a stand-still, and when the fresh 



forces attacked, they fled. Only to be 
met,” she ended proudly, “by the 
paavans we let loose. Aah! The terror 
and destruction our wondrous paavans 
meted out!” 

I could well imagine. I’d seen those 
gigantic panthers at work only a short 
while before, and what they could do 
to human flesh was not pretty. 

She went on: 

“. . . But we were still too-few. Loko 
must have enlisted the aid of every war- 
rior on Pola. More and more kept com- 
ing. Their sheer numbers would have 
lost any pitched battle. We had to let 
off finally. Then came the message from 
our Queen. . . .” 

I looked from side to side and tried 
to gauge how many there were of us. It 
couldn’t be done. We were strung out 
in a long line and since we were run- 
ning in the flat which reminded me of 
the prairie of a midwestern state, many 
of them were out of sight In the hip- 
high grass. 

“Are we retreating to some plan?” I 
asked. 

“Yes. The Great Forest lies ahead. 
Not even the bravest of all the warriors 
on Pola would dare venture in its 
depths. Ambush is only a matter of hid- 
ing behind a tree. Loko isn’t that big a 
fool.” 

A FTER a while Luria’s forces 
merged until we were no longer 
stretched out in a long line although we 
were still riding loosely in groups of 
ten or twelve. Both Luria and Jimno 
rode their mounts close so that the three 
of our paavans were running abreast. 

Luria seemed dispirited. Hank had 
his mouth close to her ear and I could 
see he was trying to break her mood. 
Maybe I know more about dames than 
Hank does. At any rate I put my two 
cents in. 

“Cheer up, kid,” I said. “We haven’t 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



71 



lost yet. . . 

“We won’t lose at all!” she said. “I 
wasn’t thinking of how the battle 
stands. It’s, it’s . . .” 

I divined her worry. That silly bird. 
H’m! To her it wasn’t silly at all. It was 
her father . ... I kind of grinned and she 
noticed it. 

“He smiles,” she said grimly. “He is 
more brave even than I thought. The 
moment is dark and your friend smiles, 
Hank. He is a man.” 

“He’s a damn fool,” Hank said. But 
his eyes were twinkling in fondness. 
Henry Fondness, I called him. “He just 
doesn’t know when to worry.” 

“The only thing I worry about is 
meeting a deadline for Ray Palmer,” I 
replied. “But that wasn’t what I was 
thinking about. I think I know what’s 
bothering our pretty Queen. The bird. 
Aha! I was right. . . 

She had turned her head in surprise. 

“. . . Well. I’m not raising an issue, 
understand, when I say stop beating 
that pretty head against a wall. The 
bird is just one of the many things that 
I don’t understand about this place. But 
you understand. That’s what counts. So 
it’s simple. He says he’s your father. 
Then surely he won’t play tricks with 
you. Loko seemed greatly impressed 
with him.” 

“You forget,” she broke in. “All Loko 
has to do is wring the bird’s neck . . 

Hank was ahead of us both. 

“He can’t,” Hank said. “The bird is 
a symbol known to everyone. But unless 
a symbol is visual it loses its signif- 
icance. Your father was more than just 
smart. He gave himself the body of a 
bird the likes of which can’t be found 
anywhere on this planet. Loko won’t be 
able to find a substitute so he’ll have to 
let him live. He will probably rig some 
sort of fol-de-rol about him being the 
only one able to understand the bird’s 
words, or perhaps the only one who is 



allowed to converse with the bird. He 
can’t afford harm to come to the bird.” 
Of course my thoughts ran in an al- 
together different direction. I’d been 
puzzling about the bird without get- 
ting any satisfactory answer. Maybe I 
wasn’t supposed to. But if the old gent 
had been such a world-beater in the wis- 
dom line, he hadn’t proved it by doing 
what he had. What was more, I didn’t 
believe the bird. That business of imi- 
tating Barry Fitzgerald, and the others 
• — of course with four or five different 
voices he would sound more mysterious. 
On the other hand, if he was that smart 
he should have been smart enough to 
have known that Loko and any one else 
who wanted to rule had but to find him 
and such a situation that was now at 
hand, would come about. There was 
something not very bright about that 
bird, or something too bright for me 
to get. 

Lovah whispered in an aside to me. 
I didn’t hear her and she repeated: 
“The Great Forest is at hand. Very 
soon it will welcome us.” 

I looked ahead and saw a wall of trees 
which stood so close together not a 
shred of light seeped into their depths. 

“You could hide an army in there,” 
I said. 

“As I told you,” Lovah agreed. 

“But how do we get in?” I asked. 
“The paavans will find the path. This 
is where we find them.” 

CHE spoke the truth about the pan- 
thers knowing their way. Straight 
as a die they sped for the solid wall 
ahead. As we came close the place 
looked a little terrifying. We had to 
stretch out again in a single line. Luria 
took the lead, Lovah, with me grasping 
her close about the waist a little more 
tightly than usual, came next. I caught 
a glimpse of Jimno holding up his 
mount. I imagined he was going to cover 



72 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



the rear. Then we were in the damp 
darkness of the forest that was really 
primeval. 

Strange cries rang out as we crossed 
the border between light and darkness. 
Rank odors filled our nostrils. It took 
several seconds for our eyes to accus- 
tom themselves to the gloom. Fitful rays 
of light seeped through the tangled 
foliage. But nowhere was to be seen a 
single area even a few feet across on 
which the blessed sun fell. 

As we proceeded deeper I became 
aware of hidden creatures, some quite 
large, stalking us from the borders of 
brush which were walls too thick to pen- 
etrate. Now and then one of these crea- 
tures let out a sound to betray its pres- 
ence. There were roars which could 
come only from the throats of a paavan, 
shrieks which terrified because one 
didn’t know or could imagine their own- 
ers. My hair stood on end for so long 
a time I thought it was starched. 

“Where are we bound for?” I asked, 
and suddenly realized I’d spoken in a 
whisper. 

“In a little while we will come to our 
trysting place,” Lovah said. 

She knew what she was talking about, 
all right. Quite suddenly the trees 
thinned and I caught a vista of an im- 
mense meadow. Then the trees closed in 
again. But as though the glimpse of the 
promised haven lent wings to the feet 
of the paavans, they sped forward with 
increased speed. Too much speed. Be- 
cause when we passed the last line of 
trees we were traveling at such speed 
we couldn’t stop or disperse. The am- 
bush which had been laid for us was 
perfect. 

npHEY must have known of it. Or 
perhaps Jimno and Lovah hadn’t 
done such a good job, or perhaps, more 
reasonably, they had tortured someone 
into telling the hidden secret. But they 



fell on us with the force of limitless 
numbers. 

At least ten of them surrounded Lo- 
vah and myself. They were mounted 
on the monstrous lizard things. In the 
still-tangled brush before the open 
meadow, their mounts had the speed of 
ours. It was the pay-off, I thought, as I 
began to flay about me with the sticker 
Lovah had given me. 

The ones who surrounded my gal and 
me were women. For the barest second 
I had some misgivings about using the 
sword in my fist. But only until one of 
them missed me with a wild swing. 
Then I swung. The blade went through 
her like a knife going through soft but- 
ter. Her mount kept moving forward 
and for a second her body hung to- 
gether. Then the top half separated 
from the bottom and rolled off. But I 
hadn’t time to gloat over it. These 
dames were crazy. They’d spur up and 
jab and swing, get in each other’s way, 
all trying to knock us off at one time. 
Lovah had gone to the proper school. 
Her timing would have made Joe Louis 
green with envy. Nor did she waste mo- 
tions in wild swinging. Every stroke of 
her sword was clipped and sharp. If 
only I wasn’t behind her. 

I proved the handicap. And the de- 
noument. For in one of my wild swings 
I knocked her off balance. And myself 
off the paavan. I reached wildly with my 
free hand, tried to maintain a semblance 
of equilibrium, and in the end got 
neither and fell off. The women fell on 
me with savage screams of exultation. 
How I managed to fight my way clear 
of the forest of cleaver-like blades 
which thirsted for my blood, is a mys- 
tery to me. But somehow I did, to get 
to a nearby tree. I wanted the protec- 
tion of its thick trunk. I knew it was 
only a temporary respite. Still I could 
not give up hope. 

That I did not escape to my tempo- 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



73 



rary haven without damage went with- 
out saying. Why Hank and I had never 
exchanged our garments for the more 
protective, though scantier garb of the 
Polans, I do not know. But at that mo- 
ment, with my back to the thick tree 
trunk, I wished we had. I was bleeding 
from several nicks and one gash; a 
sword had ripped across the flesh of my 
chest, splattering me with a crimson 
rain. It wasn’t a mortal blow, only a 
flesh wound, but I knew that if I didn’t 
receive attention it would prove damag- 
ing. Far more so than the other wounds 
I got. 

My shirt hung by scattered slivers of 
blood-soaked threads to my body. One 
sleeve had been torn completely away. 
The blood had run down into my trou- 
sers which were torn by the briars and 
looked more ragged than a hobo’s. I 
sweated and stank like a draught horse 
on a hot summer’s day. And I was be- 
seiged by a dozen women who thirsted 
for my life. The instant I was unmount- 
ed six others had come up on the run. 
I hacked away inexpertly but with tell- 
ing damage. And gradually the sheer 
strength I displayed won both their 
admiration and their respect. 

I managed a quick glance around 
during a short breathing spell. We 
weren’t doing so well. I could see any 
number of riderless paavans. Of Luria 
and Hank nothing. . . . Then they were 
at me again. Once more I took up the 
seemingly endless task. And this time 
it was harder. No longer did they come 
at me together, getting in each other’s 
way, fouling up their sword play and 
making themselves easy marks for my 
blade. 

This time they came at me singly 
and in quick succession. And on danc- 
ing feet. My swings were a little wilder, 
a little slower. I stopped after a mo- 
ment and waited until one came in 
range before swinging. Again they 



changed their tactics. This time two 
came at me at once, one from right and 
the other from the left. And while I 
tried to keep both off, two more came 
from in front. I knew it was but a mat- 
ter of a short while and they would wear 
me down. Nor was I wrong. Three times 
in a row I got the point of a sword in 
me, not deeply, but damagingly. 

T HAD a last resort. Hy speed afoot. 

I could outrun them. Suddenly I 
leaped straight forward. I jabbed twice, 
missed one and got the second, and lost 
my sword in the maneuver. It went in 
too deeply and I had no time to pull it 
free. But I no longer cared. For coming 
toward me at a full gallop, was Lovah. 
I had lost sight of her after I had been 
knocked off her paavan. I could see as 
we rushed to meet each other that she 
too had not escaped unscathed from the 
fray. One arm hung limp, there was a 
bloody streak across the firm white flesh 
of a shoulder. But her eyes were ablaze 
and her face alight. 

We were almost at meeting’s point 
when I suddenly sprawled face down- 
ward in the marshy loam I was in. A 
creeper had tripped me. I struggled to 
get to my feet. But after two tries my 
knees gave way and I fell, rolling to 
my back. 

The sky, seen through the filigree of 
black branches never looked so blue. 
Of course there were mo clouds, just the 
cerulean blue which merged into the 
gold of the eternal sun. All this in the 
space of seconds. Then another some- 
thing intruded into the scope of my 
vision. It was only a sidewise glance. 
Terror and death was coming my way. 
The most gigantic woman I’d ever seen 
was leaping toward me on huge splay 
feet, in her hand a sword fully ten feet 
long. Her expression was demoniac with 
transfigured fury. Her great breasts 
were bare and like those of monstrous 



74 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



cattle. I was powerless to move. The 
sweat was a sour river pouring down 
my face, saturating me in its stench. I 
felt a horror beyond words as she 
slid to a halt at my very side. Then the 
sword was lifted high above her head, 
her both hands clenched about the hilt. 
. . . Eons went by, worlds were born 
and died, civilizations crumbled and 
death marched to mufflled drum beats 
and stepped before me and bared its 
horrendous snout to my eyes and its 
cavernous mouth opened to swallow me 
. . . and the sword shot downward! 

I heard the thin screech and swish 
of it, felt its cold breath on my cheek 
but saw it not. My eyes were closed for 
that infinitesimal instant. They opened 
and I saw its silvery length quivering 
and undulating beside my cheek like a 
frustrated pendulum. To one side stood 
the giantess her hands tight about the 
blade of a sword which stuck out of 
both sides of her thick throat. She was 
trying to free her flesh of its grasp. 
Then her hands fell to her sides and a 
thick stream of blackish-blood poured 
from her mouth, her nose, her throat, 
and enveloped her in a redly-funereal 
garment. 

“Quickly!” a voice came from above 
me. 

I looked dazedly in its direction. 
There she was, my Lovah, a delight to 
my eyes and a balm to my soul and a 
saviour of my flesh. Her hand, firm 
and strong as a man’s reached down 
and took my lax fingers and hauled me 
erect. I let myself go limp across the 
thickly-muscled shoulders of her paa- 
van. Her fingers fell lightly across my 
sent courage coursing through me. I bent 
my head back and she brought her face 
down and once more our lips met, not 
as they had before, in passion, but in 
the gentle caress of true love. 

Her hand lay across my shoulder as 
we turned to face the enemy. Fear had 



been banished from our hearts though 
our arms were gone from us. . . . 

They surrounded us. They were 
many and though they were armed and 
we were not they moved carefully, as 
though they could not believe our state 
or the fact that there were only two of 
us. We waited for their stings to bite 
us. . . . 

“Alive! Take them alive!” one of 
them called unexpectedly. “The man is 
the one who escaped the Pit!” 

r T HE beast across which I lay stank 
to high heaven. I was bound hand 
and foot and lay belly down across its 
rump. Behind me rode one of the Ama- 
zons. Somewhere behind Lovah rode 
prisoner also. Now and then we passed 
clumps of dead and though it was im- 
possible to count them, I could see 
when the bobbing motion of the elk- 
lizard allowed, that the greater part of 
the heaps of dead were Lok’s people 
rather than Luria’s. Not that I re- 
ceived any consolation from it. Now 
that I had passed safely through 
the period of shock following the 
battle, I could see again with at least 
a small measure of equanamity what 
lay ahead. The future to put it in tech- 
nicolor, wasn’t very bright. In fact 
someone had exposed the film before 
shooting. For some reason I had 
stopped bleeding. I was on the weak 
side but at least I wasn’t going to bleed 
to death. Hooray for me, I thought. 
They’re probably saving me for a fate 
worse than death. I wouldn’t have given 
a hang had it not been for Lovah. 

Oddly enough our ride was shorter 
than any I had gone on willfully or oth- 
erwise. Whether my senses had dulled 
to time in this strange land or whether 
the ride was short it didn’t take us 
long. The pueblos of Loko’s town hove 
into view shortly. 

There were lines of people waiting 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



75 



our arrival. I could feel their hatred 
though I could not see them. I could 
feel as we passed through the oddly 
silent cordon of hating men, women and 
children, that we were the objects of 
their hate, and possibly of their re- 
venge. I could understand it too. We, 
Jovah and I, were the symbols of the 
death many of Loko’s people met. Oh, 
it was true that we weren’t directly re- 
sponsible. But we were here, and we 
were prisoner. We rode a gamut there 
under the hot sun and not a finger was 
raised in our defense. I heard Lovah’s 
first shriek of pain, her first outcry. 
There were no more : I suffered the tor- 
tures of the damned until we reached 
our goal. For from my own experience, 
I knew what Lovah must have gone 
through. They had used their fists, 
clubs, their teeth and nails and feet on 
me. Stones had pelted me until it seemed 
as though there wasn’t a whole bone in 
my body. But I was damned if I’d let 
a single sound of pain escape me. And 
Lovah had allowed only the first cry to 
pass her lips. 

Those were the physical things. There 
were dirtier, nastier things, ordure and 
worse which stung us. But at the end we 
came within the orbit of Loko’s palace 
and some small measure of safety from 
the brow'd. Our bonds were cut and even 
as I staggered around on stumbling feet 
I saw that Lovah was all right. But they 
gave us no rest. Once more I met the 
long halls and corridors of Loko’s pal- 
ace. And once more we were dragged 
before the dais on which stood the table 
and throne. This time Loko, Captain 
Mita and the giant warrior sat without 
their women. I gathered it was a change 
of time. 

Loko no longer looked the benevolent 
old man. His face was no longer benign 
or wise. It was twisted in an expression 
of absolute rage. Saliva, white-frothed 
like foam had gathered at the corners 



of his mouth and hung suspended like 
soap bubbles. 

“Little beasts! . . . Animals! . . . 
Traitors, she-devil and he-devil ... You 
thought to make small of me . . . but my 
trap caught you. . . . Ahh ! That they did 
not make it strong enough for the arch- 
devil woman, Luria. But she will not 
escape long. Already they seek her. . . . 
She will be found. By her hair, by her 
toe nails will I have her dragged before 
me ! And also her consort, the devil from 
another world! ... He didn’t bring a 
magic more powerful than what I pos- 
sess.” 

“Aah, shut up!” I snarled up at the 
shrieking old loon. “You sound like 
you’re losing your marbles. Not that 
you ever had any.” 



M Y WORDS stopped the tirade. I 
" LVA thought I caught a gleam of ad- 
miration in Mita’s eyes. But the old 
man had the floor and he was going to 
keep it. Suddenly he grinned and I no- 
ticed for the first time that he had no 
teeth. Well, after all if I were as old as 
he I don’t imagine I’d have any either. 

“The fool teaches the wise,” he said. 
“You are quite right, my friend. . . .” 

“Don’t call me friend,” I said sharply. 

“. . . I permitted my emotions the up- 
per hand. But only for the moment. In 
anger. Now they must savor another 
pleasure. This one, however, I had 
promised myself on your first escape. I 
had thought to hold myself until I had 
your friend and the woman, Luria, alto- 
gether. . . .” 



Once more I broke in: 

“I’ll never dance at your wedding, 
you old goat, but I hope to caper at your 
funeral.” 

“. . . but since that isn’t possible at 
this moment, I will contain myself for 
the present. Of course I must have the 
satisfaction of a partial enjoyment. 
Slaves! The whips!” 



76 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



I was too weak to fight. I was too 
weak to even stand. But I was damned 
if I’d give way. Not so long as there was 
breath in my body, or so I thought. 

They bound us together face to face. 
Not just our hands and feet but strands 
of wire-rope about our waists and legs 
also. I could see the man who had the 
whip to be used on Lovah and she could 
see the one who was to do the dirty work 
on me. But neither could see their re- 
spective whippers. They shoved us 
around until they had us satisfactorily 
arranged to Loko’s liking. 

“Lean your head on my shoulder,” I 
said. “If it gets bad, honey, take a good 
bite out of my shoulder, cry, sing, do 
anything but scream. I won’t be able to 
take that. . . .” 

All the time I was talking I was wait- 
ing. I had an idea the old devil on the 
dais was going to give the signal for the 
torture to begin by a nod of his head. 
His mind operated that way. It was the 
reason why he had us placed in profile 
to those on the platform. He knew the 
psychological torture we were going 
through. 

I had always wondered what could 
be the most terrible thing in the world. 
I found it out then. Waiting! Just plain 
waiting for anything. Especially when 
you know it’s going to be unpleas- 
ant. I could get a very unsatisfactory 
glimpse of Loko and the others from a 
corner of one eye. It wasn’t enough to 
define movements, or even to see the 
shake of a head, but I could see them. 
As the seconds dragged by I tried to 
turn my head to see more. The men who 
had bound us were masters of their art. 
So subtly had they wrought with the 
strands of wire rope that though I could 
move my head it was only to the part 
of an inch. More, and I would strangle. 

My attention was suddenly focused 
on the bronzed giant who was standing, 
whip in hand, behind Lovah. The mus- 



cles in his arms and shoulders were like 
those of some Atlas. He had stood im- 
passive and immobile while others had 
pushed us about. Suddenly he flexed 
his arms, the muscles rippling, flesh- 
like-water. The immensely long whip 
coiled writhingly on the stone floor, as 
though it were a snake in agony. I saw 
then, that the lash was divided in three 
parts, like a very long thonged leash. 
He raised the whip and moved it about. 
Faster and faster until it began to sing 
in the air. Suddenly he snapped it. The 
sound was like that of a pistol shot. 
Lovah, who was unaware of what was 
going on gave a startled movement of 
fear. I looked in her eyes and grinned. 

“Gonna be tough,” I said. “I love 
you, honey. . . . It’s a hell of a time to 
say that. But maybe it’ll help.” 

“Love?” she whispered. “It is a 
strange word. But we have such a word 
here if I think it is what you mean. I 
love you too, man of another world. 
You are the first I have ever said that 
to. Nor will I ever say it to another. I 
was afraid only this moment. But now, 
why, it is as though fear never existed. 
Are we not together? Are we not bound 
to each other, body to body? Surely, if 
it is within the bounds of reason, so 
will our souls be bound. But not with 
strands of rope, but with the infinitely 
greater fibres of love, as you call it. Do 
not worry, man of mine, I will not cry 
out, though they beat me to eternity.” 
If I had had tears I would have shed 
them. If I had had the strength to tear 
myself from the prison they had bound 
me in I would have ripped their tor- 
ture cell to bits and them with it. But 
I could not. I could do nothing but 
wait. Wait. . . . THE TERROR OF 
A WORD WHICH BECOMES A 
SOMETHING PHYSICAL 

r T' HEN there was no more waiting. 

The word had been translated into 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



77 



the deed. I heard the swish of the fibre 
snake. It made an eerie whistling 
sound as it zipped through the air. And 
hit! . . . 

For an instant the shock was so great 
I could do nothing, say nothing. All I 
could do was feel. Once I had written 
of liquid fire being poured on someone. 
I suddenly knew how that hero of the 
pulps felt. Pain was like ecstasy, pain 
was like suddenly losing the world one 
was in and in an instant being brought 
into another world. I didn’t even hear 
the sound of the second stroke. Only 
the feel of it. 

Pain became translated into some- 
thing else. Colors. First there was 
blackness. Just an oily pool of black 
into which your mind sank. That was 
with the first blow. The second brought 
a tinge of red into the blackness. After 
the third I stopped counting. Just the 
colors and the pain. Reds and purples 
and black, always the black like a cur- 
tain which burned when one went be- 
hind of and out of it. 

The pain was something else. It al- 
ways began with the area which had 
been hit, then spread. It was like the 
thin sound of a single violin string 
which had been plucked. The sound 
leaps from the thin wood panelling and 
spreads instantly in all direction. So 
with the pain I felt. Every single inch 
of me vibrated to the feel of pain. 

Of a sudden I heard a voice. 

Well, maybe it wasn’t a voice I 
heard. Maybe it could best be called 
a sound. Surely, I would have thought, 
had I been capable of thinking, noth- 
ing like that could be called a voice. 
It wasn’t human, nor was it animal. I 
knew what it was, though. It was the 
sound of pain! It was the cry of the 
tortured and the damned. It was the 
sound of man being beaten, whipped, 
terrorized. It was the cry of all human- 
ity wrapped up in a single throat. 



Oh, do not think there is no limit 
to pain. There is. I began to develope 
an odd immunity to it. Not that it 
wasn’t always present. Only it became 
pushed into the background. Taking its 
place, as though in compensation, a 
new world was conceived. It was a 
strange world. There were only three 
people in it, Loko, Lovah and myself. 

The first glimpse I had of this 
strange world took place as though on 
a screen which had been shoved onto 
my mind of a sudden. We were in some 
sort of cave. The walls glowed redly 
from the reflections of hidden fires. 
Lovah, stark-naked, was dancing about 
a figure bound to a stake. She was 
brandishing a pitchfork. Another figure 
stalked in from off stage somewhere. I 
recognized myself. I watched myself 
move forward toward the nude figure 
cavorting about the stake and the man 
tied to it. Then I wasn’t watching any- 
more; I was myself walking toward 
Lovah. She was singing a tune but the 
words did not make sense: 

“Old Loko’s hanging from a stake; 
Old Loko’s but a broken rake. 

Soon he’ll fry, 

We must turn him. 

Soon he’U fry, 

Soon we’ll burn him. 

Old Loko’s hanging from a stake; 
Brittle bones, bones will break.” 
From ten feet off I took an immense 
leap, like that of a male ballet dancer, 
and landed beside Lovah. 

“Ho-ho!” I chortled. “We have the 
old buzzard now, haven’t we? My pet, 
I worked hard over the fires, but they’ll 
make the labor worth it when we fry 
him. Have you pricked him to see how 
the juice runs?” 

Lovah did a pirouette completely 
around the old man tied to the stake. 
She laughed gayly and a deep groan 
echoed the light sound. The groan came 
from Loko. At the sound Lovah 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



79 




stopped dancing and I came close. 

“Please,” the old man said. “Spare 
this old greybeard. . . .” 

“Grey beard,” I said in fine scorn. 
“Why there isn’t a hair on that bald 
dome of yours and not even fuzz on 
that chiny-chin-chin you call a chiny- 



chin-chin.” 

“Rhetoric,” the old man replied. 
“Merely rhetoric. A phrase. A passing 
thought. But, and this is more to the 
point, surely you would not harm an 
old, old man like me.” 

Lovah and I burst into delighted 



laughter. She whirled lightly about me 
and came to rest at my side, her eyes 
laughing up to mine and her ilps invit- 
ing a kiss. I accepted the invitation. 
Loko groaned at sight of it. 

“Oh, don’t pay any attention to the 
old frastrate,” Lovah said. “He’s just 



jealous. He’s just jealous because we’re 
going to eat and he isn’t. . . 

“Ho-ho,” I laughed again. “He isn’t 
going to eat. He’s just going to be the 
eaten.” 

“Spare me! Spare me,” the old jerk 
groaned. 



80 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Spear him! Spear him, he says. 
Spear himmmmm. . . 

r p HE words died away in a long 
humming sound. The scene faded. 
The world of fantasy collapsed. Only 
the hum remained. I came back to real- 
ity to the sound of that hum. And 
found it was I who was making the 
sound. 

“. . . Berk ... oh, man of mine . . . 
please! Hear me. . . .” 

Her cheeks were dew-wet against 
mine from the tears she had she. Her 
voice was a sobbing entreaty which I 
could not deny. Strange, I thought, and 
it was the first time in the eons which 
had passed that I had been able to 
bring thought to my tortured mind. I 
can no longer feel the whip. 

Her voice went on, her breath tick- 
ling my neck: 

“. . . Stop doing that, Berk. Not any 
more. I can’t stand it. I’ll break too if 
you don’t stop. . . .” 

“It’s stopped, honey,” I said. “Guess 
I went off the deep end. What hap- 
pened? The guy get tired?” 

Her head went back and her eyes 
were bright as stars and twice as beau- 
tiful. Her lips managed a smile. But 
two last tears coursed down the paths 
others had sown and hung poised, like 
wondrous jewels, on the curve of her 
cheeks. I would have given the breath 
of my life to lift my hands and brush 
them into a cup to hold precious for- 
ever. 

“N-no. I think you fainted and Loko 
told him to stop.” 

“Well, that was nice of Loko. I can’t 
say that I don’t appreciate it. I’m puz- 
zled, though. . . .” 

Her eyes asked a question. 

“. . . My back,” I said. “It should 
at least smart. But I don’t feel a thing. 
Hey! Maybe I’m just numb from tak- 
ing it?” 



“No. They covered you with some 
sort of salve. I saw them place it on 
you.” 

“Ho, slaves,” Loko suddenly an- 
nounced he was still alive. “Undo the 
bonds about the two but leave them 
bound.” 

They turned us so that we were fac- 
ing the three up there. That is I thought 
there were three. It turned out there 
were four. The fourth was one of the 
women warriors. She was leaning over 
Loko’s shoulder, talking earnestly to 
him in low tones, accenting with her 
hands actions she wanted to bring to 
light. The other two were listening ab- 
sorbedly also. Loko kept shaking his 
head as though in agreement. After a 
moment of this she turned and leaped 
from the dais and strode from the room. 

The three then brought their heads 
together and after several seconds of 
talk Mita and the other also rose and 
departed. Loko turned his full atten- 
tion to us: 

“I suppose I must forego the balance 
of this,” he said. “Matters of state have 
come up. Of interest to you two also. 
The she-devil, Luria and the rest of 
them will soon be in my clutches. Per- 
haps it is best that I save the two of 
you for the time when there will be 
other rebels and traitors to keep you 
company. Throw them into adjoining 
cells so that they might hear each 
other’s agony. . . 

r T"' HE instant the cell door clanged 
A shut I rushed to the bars and called 
to Lovah: 

“All right, baby?” 

“Oh, yes. But now that the ordeal 
is at end for you, I feel this prison. We 
must break loose somehow.” 

She had a great idea, my Lovah 
honey had. There was but one thing 
wrong with it. When Hank and I had 
been thrown into this clink they just 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



81 



left us there. Not this time. Directly 
outside our doors about midway be- 
tween them stood a guard against the 
opposite wall. And now and then I saw 
the shadow of a marching man pass 
across the outside bars of our little 
cages. 

“I think we’re stuck here for a 
while,” I said. “But always remember 
that what sticks you can get unstuck.” 

It was small consolation but it had 
to do. 

The sound of the warders who had 
brought us to our cells died away in the 
distance. The oddly quivering stillness 
of the prison settled on us. I started to 
turn from the bars to see what the land 
looked like on the outside when I saw 
our guard approaching. He placed his 
face close to the door bars and whis- 
pered: 

“Loko is a traitor.” 

“Yeah,” I said. “I know. ...” I 
stopped and the light burst on me. One 
of Loko’s own men calling him a trai- 
tor. Hope kindled anew in my breast. 
Lovah must have seen the man step to 
my cell but she couldn’t hear what was 
being said. 

“Aye,” the guard said. “A deep-dyed 
traitor. He has lied to us. The Holy 
Bird has said so. I heard it. . . 

“So?” I acted with reserve. 

“It is not right. He tells the people 
the Holy Bird says he is the rightful 
ruler.” 

“So why don’t you spill the beans. 
I mean speak up! Tell someone who 
can do something about it.” 

“He would have me killed,” the 
guard said. 

“Does anyone beside you know 
this?” I asked. 

“Yes. My brother. He was with me 
when news of your capture came to 
him. He told the Holy Bird in his mean 
gloating voice about it. It was then we 
heard. Loko must have forgotten our 



presence.” 

“Where is your brother now?” I 
asked. 

“He will relieve me soon,” the man 
said. 

“And you in turn will relieve him?” 
I asked. 

“Yes.” 

“Do you think you can bring the 
bird to me?” I asked. 

He shook his head that he could. I 
smiled but his face and eyes remained 
grim. “Loko has gone on the field. It 
is said that his forces have surrounded 
the rightful Queen, Luria. It will be 
some time before he returns. I will re- 
turn soon.” 

Nor was it long before the brother 
showed up. He brought with him trays 
of food for us. The two of them divid- 
ed up the time waiting on us which 
amounted to their shoving the bowls 
into our cells and waiting until we were 
done. Then the first gathered up the 
empty bowls and went off. 

I paced the cell in what seemed in 
endless procession until his return. He 
carried the bird in the open, and 
marched straight up to the cell, thrust 
the bird in on me and said: 

“Loko will wonder greatly where the 
bird is. Nor will he know for a length 
of time. Perhaps by then he may find 
the means to escape him. Until then be 
at peace.” 

J WANTED to kiss the character. 

What a sweet guy. Be at peace. It 
was a long time since I’d heard that 
phrase. I looked down at the parrot on 
my wrist. The blamed bird seemed 
asleep. Carrying carefully, I stepped 
out of sight of the man on the outside 
the cell. Our new-found friend had been 
careful to make the transfer during the 
time the outside guard was out of 
sight. 

My bunk was below window level. I 



82 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



sat down and peered at the parrot. 
Suddenly one eye opened and blinked 
several times as though brushing the 
sleep from its lids. Then the other eye 
showed life also. We regarded each 
other without change of expression for 
several seconds. The bird was the first 
to break silence: 

“You’re about the ugliest man I’ve 
ever seen,” it said. 

I hadn’t known what to expect from 
it, certainly not that. I felt the heat rise 
all the way from my toes to my face. 
As if I wasn’t having enough trouble, 
this scrawny thing had to give me 
more. 

“Brother,” I said. “Every time you 
open your yap, every time you crack 
that way, you lose ten years from your 
life expectancy. Now why can’t you 
behave?” 

“The truth will out,” the bird said. 

“Nobody asked for it,” I said, my 
voice rising a bit. 

“I was just thinking of the future,” 
the bird said. “The day of the woman 
is past. Loko can’t lose. My daughter 
can but stave off defeat for a certain 
length of time. The inevitable must 
happen. . . .” 

A laugh that was as bitter as gall 
choked me up. For the first time since 
we’d come to this infernal place de- 
spair bored a hole in my breast. This 
bird was telling the truth and we were 
going to pay the consequences. My 
hand fell and the bird hopped off my 
wrist and onto the bed. I saw then that 
its wings had been clipped. Loko 
thought of everything. 

“. . . No,” it went on. “Loko can’t 
lose. Yet oddly, he can’t win. A para- 
dox, no?” 

“Who cares?” I asked. 

“You do,” he said. “You want to 
live, don’t you? The girl in the cell next 
door; she makes life worth the strug- 
gle, doesn’t she?” 



I lifted my head. 

“You have been beaten, whipped, 
wounded. All in vain? You fought back, 
but you lost. Now you have a valid 
reason for fighting. I can see through 
the veil of time, but because the veil 
is not of one thickness alone, I cannot 
see all the way. This I can see. A level 
plain bound on two sides by a forest, 
on the third by a river and the fourth 
side by a deep valley. 

“Two armies are drawn up on the 
plain. They clash and all is confusion, 
all is terror and all is lost to sight be- 
cause they have lost their integral dis- 
tinctions. They are mixed and are one. 
Now they separate into distinct groups, 
each fighting an individual war of its 
own. Now from the forest comes a new 
force. They are mounted on paavans 
and they are all men. They ride, like a 
spearhead of fate, into the thick of the 
warring groups. They ride close, slash 
off segments of these groups and ride 
off before retaliation can be given. At 
their head rides a bareheaded man with 
the face of an eagle. His eyes are alight 
with the look of a conqueror, and his 
set features have the look of judgment. 
Now others rally around his standards. 
He becomes a wedge driving his sword 
points deep into the heart of his enemy. 
They scatter and flee and from all sides 
are beset by their opponents and 
chopped to bits. 

“Now I see something which was not 
plain before. A woman and man had 
been the leaders before. They are no 
longer there. They have disappeared. I 
see them again and they are bound to 
the mounts of a fleeing couple. The 
woman is unconscious. . . 

J DIVINED what he was trying to 

tell me. Luria and Hank .... I rose 
and slammed my fist into the wall and 
the grey dust powdered and flaked 
around my fist. 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



83 



. . They are met by a company of 
warriors riding toward the scene of 
battle. Now all turn and make full 
speed toward the rear. And in the lead 
is an old man, a man I once knew full 
well. Loko. . . .” 

I bent my head: 

“I’ve got to get out of here!” I grit- 
ted harshly. “Do you understand? I’ve 
got to get out of here ! And take Lovah 
with me.” 

“Once you learned your strength,” 
the bird said. “Have you forgotten it?” 

I lifted him to my shoulders. His 
clawed clutch bit deep into the flesh yet 
I didn’t notice it. I waked straight to 
the door and clutched with both hands 
at the bars. Their coldness seemed to 
defie me. The guard looked at me with 
wonder in his eyes. 

“The one outside will see you,” he 
said with apprehension. 

“Open the door,” I said. “We’re get- 
ting out of here.” 

I could read the indecision in his eyes. 
Now I heard the shouted warning of the 
one at the window. He had seen the bird 
on my shoulder. I couldn’t risk waiting. 
Setting my feet firmly I yanked with a 
sudden pull in which all my strength 
was exerted. There was a ripping sound 
as the door was pulled from the stone 
and I staggered backward, the weight 
of the metal frame in my two hands. 
Hurling it to one side I leaped forward 
to face the astonished guard. 

“With us . . .?” I asked. 

He made up his mind. “Yes. My 
brother, too. Shall I get him?” 

“Yes. Quickly! But leave me your 
sword and open the other cell first.” 

Lovah flew into my arms and buried 
her head on my shoulders. I let her rest 
there for a few seconds. I could hear 
the bellowing voice of the man outside 
grow faint as he sped to spread the 
alarm. But we had to wait the coming 
of the brothers. But they did not come 



alone. There were others with them, a 
dozen others, all armed and all willing 
to lay down their lives the instant they 
saw the bird. Lovah was given a sword, 
and with one of the brothers in the lead 
we started on the road to freedom. 

“Where are we bound for?” I asked, 
as we ran full speed down the twisting 
lengths of the corridors. 

“The throne room,” one of the broth- 
ers replied. “Loko has returned with 
Luria and the stranger who came with 
you from the other world.” 

The news lent wings to our already 
flying feet. Then I noticed that we 
weren’t running by the same path I’d 
been taken. Suspicion raised its head in 
my breast. As though reading my mind 
the one in the lead gasped: 

“The other way we’d meet those com- 
ing to bar our path. This way is longer 
but safer.” 

He was right. 

We rushed into the throne room from 
a side entrance but one that was all the 
way at the far end. So intent were those 
in the room on what was taking place 
before the dais, they didn’t even see us. 
I could understand their intent. 

Hank and Luria were in the same po- 
sition as Lovah and I had been only a 
short time before. The only difference 
being that they were not bound to- 
gether. Further, they had been made to 
kneel before Loko and the other two. 
Loko was on his feet, a look of mad fury 
on his wrinkled face. His arms were 
raised above his head and I could hear 
the thin screech of his voice all the way 
across the room: 

“You will not die quickly, I promise 
that. I will make life drain from your 
bodies as the sweat labors from it on 
heaty days. I will have my revenge — 
I will make it last to your bitter end. 

. . . They will come too late, and seeing 
your lifeless bodies will give up the 
struggle. . . .” 



84 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



T T E STOPPED, warned by the shouts 
of the guards and the two men be- 
side him. He took one look at us, turned 
and scampered backward to seek refuge 
behind his warrior men. 

In an instant a solid wall of guards 
had been formed before the two cap- 
tives. We hit them and it was like plow- 
ing into an immensely thick rubber 
band. We hit and bounced back. This 
time I took the lead, when we charged 
forward again. I swung my sword like 
a man swings a reaper and whatever it 
touched became two. My men seemed 
charged with the same fury as I. They 
hacked and stabbed with terrible effect. 
But once more we were too few. Reason 
and sanity left me. I was a wild animal. 
Strange sounds came from my throat. 
Screams of madness, shouts of deliri- 
um. Fear was plain on the faces of those 
facing me. For a few moments they gave 
before my attack, enough for me to win 
to the sides of the kneeling man and 
woman. It took just the time of two 
sword swipes and they were free. Then 
they were at my side and swinging 
with me. 

More and more guards kept joining 
in the fray. We were outnumbered fifty 
to one. But not for long. Suddenly there 
were shouting voices, voices which sent 
echoes of “Luria” echoing about the 
stone walls, and from all sides warriors 
streamed in to join the battle, Luria’s 
warriors. 

Our opponents melted from our sight, 
streaming to join their leaders in flight. 
But not for long. We had Captain Mita 
and the giant who had sworn to do 
things to Hank and me, to reckon with. 
Even from my small experience in this 
pest-hole I knew what a maze it was. 
We discovered it was a perfect place for 
defense. Each corridor had been built 
with that purpose in mind. Ten men 
could hold back a hundred in their nar- 
row reaches. And there were dozens of 



corridors. 

We had won the throne room. But we 
had also won to the heart of Loko’s em- 
pire. We soon discovered that we had 
not won a complete victory. It might, 
we also discovered, become a Pyrhic 
victory. Loko was a long way from giv- 
ing up the struggle. 

Ever since we had been rescued from 
the tented compound where we had been 
prisoner, I had wondered why the use 
of bow and arrow had not been more 
universal. Later I was told that they 
had not as yet become proficient in its 
use. Loko’s men were. Or those he had 
trained. Suddenly a hail of arrows met 
our advancing forces. It was only for- 
tunate that we were not in the open. 
As it was those barbed shafts kept us 
at bay. And once more it was Jimno 
who devised an impromptu escape from 
them. 

“Small groups,” he shouted, taking 
the play away from Luria as naturally 
as though it had been God-given. “Six 
and eight to each. Go low — and 
keep moving. Stab and go on. Don’t let 
yourselves be targets.” 

As though they had been trained in 
the new maneuver for a lifetime, they 
folowed the command to perfection. 
Now when a man or woman fell it was 
a single one and not as before, by fives 
and sixes. 

But still it was hack and chop. Loko, 
or rather Mita, had enough sword fod- 
der to keep us busy. I had learned a lot 
about the use of a sword. I no longer 
swung it in wild circles, hoping to catch 
someone in the radii. Now I jabbed and 
chopped. My sword and I were covered 
with blood. Lovah, too, was finding re- 
venge for the indignities she’d suffered. 

At last the corridor we had found 
ourselves in came to an end. We were 
on the parapet which encircled Loko’s 
pueblo palace. Our enemies were fleeing 
from us. For the first time I saw a means 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



85 



of escape which I hadn’t seen before. 
Ladders had been placed against the 
walls. Men streamed like firemen down 
these ladders. 

np HE chase continued. But it was a 
-*■ little more even now. Now we were 
in the open where the archers had a 
chance at us. But they were not too pro- 
ficient in the use of the bow. The arrows 
were indiscriminate in their choice of 
victims. And they found their friends 
as quickly as their enemies. 

We won through the hail of steel. And 
forced our way to the ladders. Soon, 
each ladder had its quota of Luria’s 
warriors in command. Nor did it take 
long before we were on the stretch of 
ground below and continuing the chase. 
It was only then that we learned Jim- 
no’s genius. 

He had thought of everything. From 
above came a shrill imperious whistling. 
And from the great grassy plain sur- 
rounding Loko’s city came a horde of 
paavans. 

I don’t know how many there were 
or how Jimno had gone about calling 
them but come they did in an irresist- 
ible wave which swept away all who 
opposed them until they arrived within 
the precincts of the city itself. Here 
they were met by those trying to flee. 
Pandemonium is a mild way of saying 
what followed. 

But all this is what happened at the 
shrill calling of the paavans. What took 
place with us directly is as follows. We 
followed so close on the heels of our 
enemies they had no chance to cut the 
ladders from us. There were some who 
were able to but not many. Those who 
were on the ladders at the time, friend 
and foe alike, met a quick death below 
for the drop was all of seventy feet. 

We won our way to the bottom. At 
our head Jimno strode like an avenging 
angel. I suppose the memory of what 



happened to his wife and children was 
never to be forgotten; nor would the 
enemy ever forget the flashing sword 
which took a dozen lives for every one 
exacted of his. We followed close be- 
hind and chopped away after him. It 
seemed we were invincible. They fell as 
the leaves fall in the wake of a storm. 
They retreated until we backed them 
up against a rear wall of the palace 
pueblo itself. 

There were a hundred of them against 
perhaps fifty of us. The odds were even. 

We paused, all together, as though 
drawing the last breath and strength 
for the ensuing struggle for it was in 
each of our minds that it was to be to 
the death. Then, as though motivated 
by a single being, we leaped for each 
other. Whether by chance or intent 
Hank and I were opposed by the giant 
and Captain Mita. Mita was my oppo- 
nent. 

All it took was a single stroke on my 
part to know that I was at the short 
end of a long ride. He parried my 
clumsy jab and had it not been for a 
stroke of sheer luck, the engagement 
would have ended then and there. His 
foot slid forward at the same time his 
sword did. But someone alongside 
kicked him in trying to get out of the 
way of a blow, and that tiny instant of 
break in the rhythm of his riposte, 
allowed his parry to slide past me, just 
under my shoulder. 

I leaped backward to safety. 

I knew then I had but a single chance. 
Slash and keep slashing with the utmost 
disregard for safety and depend on his 
being on the defensive all the time. 
Sooner or later by sheer strength I 
might wear him down. It sounded good 
in my brain. It even started off well. 

I whirled my sword so fast it was but 
a streak of light. And, as I had hoped, 
he kept on the retreat. But why was he 
grinning? Suddenly he stepped in — 



86 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



slid in would be a better way of describ- 
ing the movement he made. He jabbed 
easily, somehow avoiding my clumsy 
blows. The sword tip pricked me and 
blood began to flow. Again and again 
he managed to evade my thrusts and 
slashes and every time he came in he 
departed with a little more of my blood 
leaking from various parts of my an- 
atomy. He was toying with me. 

After a while I began to gasp a bit. 
Breath was becoming harder to catch. 
He motioned me forward, saying: 

“Come! You have only felt the tip 
thus far. The edge is keener, will make 
life depart the quicker. You have lived 
long enough. Soon your time will 
end. . . .” 

r pO HELL with it, I thought. A guy 
A can live but once. And Lovah or 
not, if my time was now, that’s the way 
it would have to be. I dove forward 
again and by sheer force broke through 
his guard, made him retreat. I even 
managed to get in a couple of digs of 
my own, yet he always managed to 
evade the death thrust. 

Once more I had to stop to regain a 
spent breath. And saw for the first time, 
realized then what he had forced me 
into doing. He had retreated all right. 
But in the direction he wanted. And in 
so doing he had forced me to go along. 
Now his back was against the wall of 
the palace and I was in the sun. His 
sword danced merrily in front of my 
eyes and seemed to shoot sparks into 
them. 

“You have courage, my friend,” he 
said. “It is a pity that I have to kill you. 
But first I must kill that thing on your 
shoulder. . . .” 

The bird, I thought suddenly. It was 
still perched on my shoulder. Its claws 
still dug into my flesh and for the first 
time I felt the bite of them. Softly to my 
ears came the last words of the bird, 



Luria’s father: 

“This time death will be final for me. 
Tell Luria this world is done for her. 
And say that the world she will go to 
has no need of women warriors. . . .” 

They were the last utterance he 
made. In a movement that was but a 
play of light, too quick for my eyes to 
follow, Mita brought his sword forward 
with a gentle but lightning-like move- 
ment of his wrist. I did my best to leap 
out of its way. But the blade was not 
seeking me. It found its mark all right. 
A spatter of warm liquid struck against 
my cheeks and from the corner of my 
eye I saw the head of the Holy Groana 
Bird fall to the ground. Then I no 
longer felt its claws in my shoulder’s 
flesh. The mystery of it would never be 
solved now. 

“So be it,” Mita said. “The time has 
come my friend. Now!” 

He danced forward and his blade 
flickered toward me, now toward my 
throat and now toward my chest but 
always to return as I danced awkwardly 
aside. But he was no longer smiling 
at my movements. Suddenly he snaked 
forward, bent a little lower than usual 
and shot out one leg and arm in a 
simultaneous gesture. I made the mis- 
take of following the direction of his 
leg. ... I don’t know about this busi- 
ness of a drowning man seeing his life 
flash backward before him as he goes 
down. But this I know. 

The dust of this place had a bitter 
taste — the sun was a blast furnace 
for death to enter — and the shadow 
— there was a voice calling to me, the 
voice of my beloved, and I had not the 
breath to answer — a pointed bit of 
steel was leaping to find a spot in me 
of the great destroyer crossed the face 
of the sun. . . . 

My sword fell to the earth. My eyes 
were suddenly too tired to stay open, 
yet too horrified, too amazed to close. 



QUEEN OF THE PANTHER WORLD 



87 



I knew who had cast the shadow. Mo- 
kar. As though he had been shot from 
the blue, he had come in a tremendous 
leap to land full on Mita. One snap of 
those terrible jaws and Mita’s life had 
escaped in a cascade of gore. Mita had 
spoken the truth. The time had come, 
His time. 

I turned wearily. Just in time to see 
the last of the great drama. Loko was 
pinned against the wall not far from me. 
Hank was just stepping away from the 
headless body of the giant, Luria and 
Jimno were facing Loko, and Lovah 
was running toward me with the grace 
and speed of a gazelle. 

I took her in my arms and she was 
limp for a second. Her fingers explored 
my wounds and her eyes lit up and her 
lips gave a sigh as she saw that I was 
only nicked. 

We moved, arm in arm, toward the 
frozen tableaux. 

Loko was pleading for his life, a 
broken stream of words which sounded 
oddly profane from lips which had 
caused so many to die. They were the 
sounds of a babbling idiot. 

Luria was a pale-faced ghost, now 
that the die was cast. She saw that the 
bird was missing from my shoulder and 
at the nodding of my head knew it was 
dead. Her lips thinned and determina- 
tion made her jaws go square. 

“Throw him a sword,” she said. 

The blade lay at the old man’s feet. 
He didn’t even look at it. Begging 
words dripped from his mouth, broken- 
voiced promises which had no meaning. 
Suddenly Jimno pushed the girl gently 
aside, saying: 

“It is not meet for a Queenly blade 
to be defiled. His flesh would rot the 
steel, tarnish its color. He is but car- 
rion even in life. No better dead, 
surely. . . 

Loko died more quickly than did 
most to whom he had ordered death. . . . 



“LURIA,” Hank was saying. “There 
is nothing here for you anymore. 
Jimno has proven a right to rule. It’s 
better that way. . . 

We were sitting about, the four of us, 
Lovah, Hank, the beautiful girl who 
had been the Queen, and I. Jimno was 
rounding up the last of Loko’s forces. 
Lovah found the hollow of my arms and 
was content there. 

“But my people,” she protested. 

“They will live and well, too,” Hank 
said. “Jimno is wise and great. He is a 
poet, remember. But also a warrior. He 
proved that. He won his right to a king- 
ship. Let the days of a woman’s rule 
end.” 

She turned her face to his and he 
smiled and went on: 

“Except for the rule over me. You 
have always been my Queen. In my 
heart you wil always reign. But in my 
land, how much greater and more en- 
during will it be.” 

“I have the power,” she said aloud. 
“Perhaps. . . 

We became tense as she turned and 
gave us each a look of intense search. 
Then her lips framed a smile and she 
continued, “Close your eyes, all of you. 
And let us pray we return to that place 
from whence you came. . . .” 

It was evening. We were in a large 
city. Skyscrapers were framed against 
the cloud-studded sky. We were not 
far from water. I could hear it slapping 
against a pier. . . . Then I saw the white 
wonder of the Wrigley Building. We 
were home again. 

* * * 

LOVAH knows what it means to be 
a writer’s widow. A week has gone by 
since our return. She has wanted to go 
out every night. But every night I say: 

“Can’t honey. Got to finish this for 
Ray Palmer.” 

And always the same words from her: 

“I am beginning to think you mar- 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



ried the wrong person. This Ray Palm- 
er, whoever he is, is more a wife to 
you than I.” 

I grinned. Only in one way. I thought. 
He’d never be in any of the other ways 

THE 



you are. Her arms slid around my neck. 
She whispered something to me, and 
Ray, manuscript, work, were all for- 
gotten. Nobody cooks hamburgers like 
my wife. . . . 

END 



IKHNATON’S REVOLUTION 

★ By FRAN FERRIS ★ 



T HE great Egyptian Pharoah, Amenhotep, 
the Magnificent, died about 1375 B.C. and 
was buried in the Valley of the Kings’ 
Tombs. This great Pharoah who presided over the 
splendor of the noble city of Thebes and who 
made his name ring in Egyptian history was not 
noted for what he was but rather for what he did 
primarily as a military strategist. At his death 
Egypt was a gigantic Empire consisting of Asia 
Minor, Egypt and Nubia. A mighty man was 
required to hold together this heterogenous entity. 

Amenhotep’s son, Amenhotep III, more often 
called Ikhnaton, was the direct opposite of his 
father. Where his father was a bold and brave 
military leader, taking by force what he wanted, 
and seldom giving thought to anything but con- 
quest, Ikhnaton was the philosopher, the dreamer, 
the idealist, the man of profound thought. 

He immersed himself, not In the study of his 
mighty empire but in the thought of time, and he 
was more interested in the philosophizing of the 
priests than in the course of his nation. But in 
his way, the man is a most remarkable man among 
Pharoahs. We think of him as an individual, 
not a name before a state. 

His position of prominence comes from the fact 
that almost single-handedly, he changed Egyptian 
religion. Previously, all Egyptian religion had the 
elementary concepts of gods presiding over given 
human function, for example, architecture. The 
god Ptah was supposed to have guided the con- 
struction of the beautiful objects d’art that were 
prepared beneath the Temple of Memphite. 

But it was the belief of the Pharoah to change 
this. He believed that the gods were not only the 
guides of such work, but the very inspirers and 
directors. Ptah thus became not merely the 
patron of the art of architecture but its very 
fountainhead. He was the master-workman, the 
architect of the Universal. All designs and all 
beauty stem from him. This idea met with severe 
opposition at first, but gradually Ikhnaton, by 
the magic of his personality and his oratory, 
swung the priests’ beliefs in his direction. 

XJO GOD, however, had ever been claimed as the 
^ ^ god of the Empire. Re, or Ra, god of the 



Sun, was the nearest approach to that, but in some 
subtle sense which we do not yet fully understand, 
he was not the major figure. Ikhnaton identified 
his new god, the god of the Empire with the old 
Amon, the sun-god, the “Ra.” He called this god 
“Aton, Lord of the Sun.” The symbol of the god 
was the usual radiating disk. 

Then to destroy his father’s constant reference 
to Amon, Ikhnaton went so far as to obliterate 
that name as best he could from the entire city. 
His success was excellent. Even the sacred writ- 
ings on the tombs of his ancestors were eliminated. 

This done, he assigned cities in Asia, in Egypt 
and in Nubia to the god — they were dedicated, so 
to speak, to the furtherance of his worship. Be- 
cause the Pharoah’s word was absolute there was 
little difficulty in enforcing this new god on Jiis 
subjects. 

So absorbed was Ikhnaton in his religious work 
that he almost ignored the dissolution of the 
Egyptian Empire. Hittite tribes from the East 
were beginning to worry at the flanks of the 
Egyptian lion and the descent of Egypt was at 
hand. Ikhnaton did nothing. The results were 
apparent at once. Charioteers swept through his 
empire and conquered it with little or no trouble. 
That is, they conquered those portions of the 
empire which they coveted, which fortunately was 
not Egypt itself. 

Ikhnaton died, not in hiding for he was still a 
Pharoah, but all Egypt cursed his memory and he 
was known as the “criminal of Akhetaton.” This 
was a terrible appellation. Because he was an intel- 
lectual who did nothing while his world vanished 
about him, his people were prone to look upon 
him with contempt. But this much at least, may 
be said : he was a thinker and an idealist. 

Bloody as is the history of ancient Egypt, it was 
and is a novelty to find anyone so concerned with 
the things of the spirit. As has often been men- 
tioned, the Egyptians were almost always con- 
cerned with material gain — their spiritualistic atti- 
tude and their absorption with religious matters 
was merely a cover-up for their intensely acquisi- 
tive activities. Not so for Ikhnaton ; he may have 
let an empire fall, but he at least, thought ! 

* * * 



THE MIGHTY AMAZON 

By H. R. STANTON 



T HE Amazon river in South America is the 
greatest one in the world. It has been 
called many different names by the various 
tribes living along their portion. It was given 
the name of Amazon by the explorer, Orellana, 
who named it after a tribe of warriors that had 
exceptionally large wives who helped their hus- 
bands in battles. 

The full length of the Amazon is approximately 
3300 miles. It varies in width, but where it 
enters the Atlantic it is ISO miles wide. The 
Amazon drains more than 2,500,000 square miles, 
a territory nearly as large as the United States. 
As the Amazon lies within a tropical zone, there 
is uninterrupted plant growth throughout the 
year. Their excessive rainy season is during our 
winter, and some sections have 100 inches of 
rainfall a year. It flows at a rate of two and 
one-half miles an hour, and much faster during 
the floods which occur each year. The Amazon 
and its connecting rivers form the largest system 
of inland water-ways in the world. 

Within the basin of the Amazon there are layers 
of rocks and sandstone of varying height. This 



shows that at one time a local mediterranean sea 
covered the Amazon lowland territory and its 
shallow outlet into the western sea gradually be- 
came filled in. 

This mighty river pours five million gallons of 
water per second into the Atlantic ocean. Along 
with all this water is carried tons of sediment. 
Every twenty-four hours there is enough to form 
a solid cube 500 feet each way. During the flood 
season, villages, even though they are built on 
high posts, are practically unindated. Natives 
paddle their canoes right into their houses. 

Because of the hot, moist climate, there is lux- 
uriant plant growth. Among this dense tangle 
of vegetation, live many practically unknown 
tribes. They are savage and cannibalistic. They 
hunt with clubs, bow and arrow, and blow-guns 
which shoot tiny sharp poisoned arrows that 
cause instant paralysis. 

The plants grow uninterrupted year after year 
till they attain monstrous size. The enormous 
trees along the banks of the river are interwoven 
with vines and roots, and hanging with moss to 
create a fantastic picture. 



PERUVIAN MYTH X-RAY EYES 

By JOIN BARRY Ry PETE BOGG 



T HERE is an old legend of Collas, a Peru- 
vian tribe, about Pacari Tampu, the 
“House of the Dawn.” From the caverns 
of Pacari Tampu there came four brothers and a 
sister. The oldest boy climbed a mountain and 
threw out stones in all directions to signify that 
he had taken possession of the land. The other 
three brothers were envious of him, and the 
youngest brother succeeded in inducing him to 
enter a cave. When he was inside, he rolled a 
big stone in front of the mouth of the cave, and 
imprisoned the eldest brother there forever. On 
a pretense of searching for his lost brother, he 
had one of the other brothers climb a high moun- 
tain, from which he cast him, and as he fell, by 
use of black magic, changed him into a stone. 
The third brother sensed that there was treach- 
ery, and fled. The first brother symbolized the 
oldest known Peruvian religion, that of the thun- 
der god, Pachacamac; the second, that of an in- 
termediate fetishism or stone-worship; the third, 
the cult of Viracocha, the water-god; the fourth 
seems to be the more modern sun-worship, which 
in the end triumphed over all the rest, as is proved 
by the younger brother whose name was “Pirrhua 
Manca,” which means “Son of the Sun.” 



T HERE is a young man living in Johannes- 
burg who seems to have x-ray eyes, for he 
is able to discern the presence of minerals 
in many places where even the experts have been 
in doubt. He is now employed by a South Af- 
rican gold mining syndicate, and his job is to 
search for new mining sites for them. This would 
be quite a task for sixteen year old Pieter Van 
Jaarsveld if it weren’t for his x-ray eyes. 

When he was taken for his first visit to a dia- 
mond mine, he became ill with a headache caused 
by a blue, shimmering haze above the diamond 
pit. No one else had ever noticed any blue haze, 
and they were puzzled by his words. He said he 
had never seen any thing just like it before, but 
that he had seen black ridges shimmering over a 
gold mine before that had given him the same 
kind of a headache. Several tests were made by 
taking the boy to mines and to prospective mines 
which proved that he did see phenomena that no- 
body else saw. Black ridges danced over ground 
where gold was buried, and white ridges indicated 
that there was water underground. But the blue 
shimmering haze always indicated diamonds. He 
has been publicized in the Johannesburg news- 
papers as the boy with the x-ray eyes. 



89 



Mirrors of the Queen 

by RICHARD S. SHAVER 



■t was a simple vanishing act with 
trick mirrors, anti Lola stepping through 
them— bsit this time she failed to return . . . 



I WAS helping backstage setting up 
scenery when I first saw the Queen. 
Her real name was Lola Murphy, 
but her act was billed “The Golden 
Queen” in the Burlesque circuit. 

So naturally she was “the Queen” 
to all the troupers, and believe me she 
looked the part. Do I have to tell you 
what queen of the strippers looks like? 
You don’t even know? Where are you 
from, anyway? 

She had everything, tall and perfect 
and young. She danced like an opium 
eater’s dream — and she had golden, 
natural blonde hair to go with it — and 
plenty of it. The Queen would be bet- 
ter known today than Christine Ayres 
if this hadn’t happened. . . . She had 
more, instead of languid perfection she 
had a dynamic rhythm, the song of life 
was born in her to be movement. . . . 
I fell! 

She was headed for the top, musical 
comedy, movies, everything would have 
come her way. Agents were after her 
even then, but she avoided them. She 
wasn’t figuring on a change. I some- 
times think this was because of me. In 
fact I know it. She could have had 
anybody she wanted, but she took a 
shine to me. 

I’ve had a little stage experience, 
and when the Queen found out I used 
to work for a magician, she had an idea. 
I was spending one of my few re- 



maining dollars over the “Burlesque 
bar” next to the Trocadero, in Philly, 
when the Queen took the stool next to 
me at the bar. 

As usual when she appeared on my 
horizon, my eyes popped, my mouth 
sagged open in simple admiration and 
other things, so that I am just able to 
whisper to the barkeep: “Another Tom 
Collins, pal.” Just as if that didn’t 
mean I was going to be broke and out 
of fodder money before payday. I could 
tell to a meal just how far that pay 
check would go. And it was gone, here 
and now. 

Then I turned on the charm, and 
began to unwind what meagre salami 
I could slice for the Queen’s benefit. 

“I’m Frank Marr, Demon Magician, 
master of illusion and apparition. You 
never knew that, did you, Lola?” 

“I did not. But there are a few things 
I could learn yet. You might even have 
money to pay for these drinks, but I’ll 
have to see it to believe it.” 

Uneagerly I shelled out my last re- 
maining bit of well worn cabbage. 
Queenie laughed. I said — “Well, a guy 
don’t make much moving scenery and 
sweeping out ... if I was in the 
dough like you, it'd be different.” 

The Queen sort of measured me with 
an eye. 

“I see. At liberty, one magician. 
Why didn’t you say so?” The queen 



90 







She stood with her lovely arms raised over her head, looking like a golden goddess 





92 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



put my money back in my hand, and 
paid the bar-keep. She was sharp. 

“You’re not much of a magician, or 
you’d have more money. When did you 
work last? I mean aside from that 
bums relief job of yours?” 

“It has been quite a while.” 

“I could get you a job with us. You 
could fill in while we change, etc. A 
magician is always good. I’ll speak a 
word, and you come in after the show 
and we’ll see what you can do. It don’t 
have to be too good. You don’t stutter, 
doyou? I know you’re not too proud!” 

“NNNNooo,” I stuttered. 

CO IT began, and I burlesqued a stage 
^ magician very well. My clumsiness 
and inexperience the audience thought 
was put on, and it went off fine. But 
The Queen wasn’t fooled. 

I was young, and being around pul- 
chritudinous, broadminded females was 
seventh heaven. I ate regularly, and 
spent a lot of my time watching doors 
for Lola, watching her on the stage, 
getting a chance to talk to her in the 
wings. 

Pretty soon I was that way about 
Lola, and everybody knew it, including 
her. She had a big heart, and never 
put me in the place I probably be- 
longed, so far as she was concerned. 
That’s what I thought, before I learned 
she cared. 

Everything was jake, my act was 
funny if not clever, and Lola advised 
me as to how to better it. If I had left 
well enough alone, I’d still be a trouper, 
instead of telling this sad story. And 
it is sad ! 

But I got a bright idea. I devised 
an improvement on the gazeeka box, 
and I called it “The Fountain of 
Youth.” 

The gazeeka box is an old standby 
of burlesque. It has a trick bottom, it 
looks like a coffin. You put someone 



inside, then you close the door, say 
Presto, open the door and there either 
is nobody there, or there is someone 
else there. Which is surprising enough, 
but everyone has seen it, and no one 
is surprised. Which I decided to 
remedy. 

I rigged a trick fountain of chemical 
mist. There were mirrors and such 
things, and when somebody stepped in- 
to the fountain they disappeared. Or 
they could appear out of nowhere right 
in the fountain, and it was very pretty. 

The way I worked it, an old lady 
walked into the fountain and disap- 
peared. After a second, out stepped 
the pretties of our chorus girls in sheer 
net, did a little dance of naked joy, and 
pranced cff the stage. “The fountain of 
youth " — and we had a swell bally-hoo 
which made it all very impressive. 

“Frank,” says Lola, first time we 
worked the new act — “it needs some- 
thing. After the girl comes out, put 
somebody else in, and have a monster 
come out — something goes wrong, see?” 

“That’s funny, Queen. The magi- 
cian I used to work for had an old book 
that mentioned a spell that was sup- 
posed to do just that — you put in some- 
thing and a kind of little monster ap- 
peared. I copied the spell out of the 
book, meaning to try it some time — just 
for fun, you know!” 

“You don’t seriously believe in such 
things, do you?” 

“I don’t, but there was something 
funny about that old book. Black 
Harry, the magician, never let me read 
it. He had a couple of books he never 
let anyone see. Why? What could a 
book do wrong?” 

“Lots of people have' books they are 
ashamed of. What’s funny about that?” 

“Because I hooked this one, and I 
remember that spell because I copied 
it out of the book before I put it back. 
That book was plenty peculiar!” 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



93 



“Never mind such nonsense, Frank. 
Just work up the act like I tell you. If 
it’s good enough we might get a chance 
at big time — I’ll help you put it over 
tonight.” 

If I had only let it go at that! But 
I wasn’t even listening to her. I was 
thinking of some of the stunts Black 
Harry used to do that even I couldn’t 
figure out. I was thinking of that 
book — so old it didn’t even have a cover 
or flyleaf. So old, in black letters on 
thin parchment paper — and on the top 
of each page — the legend “Genuine 
Magic.” 

'T'HAT night I looked up the pages 
I had copied out of the ancient 
book. I copied down again the words 
that had caused my curiosity. 

“In the Tyme of Artour King, there 
was an Elf Queen called the Golden. 
Olden magick had she, and this spelle 
of potencie is hers. She tooken five 
mirrors, and put them in the pentacle. 
She did so put them that the morwen- 
ings light tangled a web of planings 
litten thrice, from each to one and back. 
Within the magick star of light she did 
cause to appear, by cunning turning 
of mirror facen, a black hole out of 
night itself. 

“In that awful hole it was her evil 
custom to cast her enemies. From that 
hole she gotten gold and silver and 
gems, and outen that hole came mon- 
strous little men to serve her. 

“Those she threw in came back no 
more. Yet outen that hole she tooken 
much, all her fancy did demand, for 
the wights beyond did serve her. 

“This awful spelle she did give to 
one magickon. Himsel’ written it down 
thus, and to another, and at last to me. 
Herein I do print it. Thaumaturgists 
know such things may not go losten, 
here it is. 

“Five by five and three yards distan’ 



each reflecting over each and under 
each, down each middle the flaren 
slicen; so slicen each the other trained 
and turned till — the dread black star 
appears between. 

“Then beware, and bid goodbye what 
goes in thare!” 

I got two more mirrors out of the 
stock room, and set them up behind the 
screen with the other three to form 
each one side of a star — the “pentacle”. 
The other sides I did not even draw 
upon the floor, letting the reflected light 
do that. Why? Why does anybody do 
anything? Because I was interested in 
that old book and its deadly serious 
attitude toward magic — one couldn’t 
read it and think it was all foolishness. 
Yet in truth I did not think I was 
doing anything but making a wider 
opening for the disappearance of the 
woman from the chemical mist of the 
“fountain”. I turned on the spot for 
the “light flare slicen” and turned each 
of the mirrors till the main light made 
a line of repetition down the center of 
each. Then I stood back, to see just 
what I had. At first it didn’t appear 
to be anything, but as I moved about, 
my shoulder nudged one of the mirrors, 
and instantly in the center of the mirror 
arrangement appeared a wide black 
space. A place where no light entered — 
a shadow; deep and sinister it looked, 
too. 

I was startled, but still didn’t realize 
that there was anything remarkable 
about a mere shadow caused by reflec- 
tion of a light. 

I didn’t realize that mirrors, by a 
concentration of many lines of force, 
could so distort or work upon the tenu- 
ous webs of space itself as to cause to 
project into three dimensions something 
that was distinctly not of our three 
dimensions, but of a higher or a lower 
number. To me it was a peculiar illu- 
sion, similar to many such tricks em- 



94 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



ployed by magicians, and the ancient 
authority for its potent nature I took 
most lightly of all. Or did I? Who 
knows truly what goes on in the hid- 
den portions of his own mind? 

I passed off the black space as a 
mere coincidence of shadow lines from 
the mirrors, switched off the spot, and 
left for a dinner date with Lola. I for- 
got all about it till the show opened 
that night. We didn’t need to rehearse 
even a new act, we ad libbed whenever 
we didn’t know what came next, and 
the audience at a burlesque show is 
never critical. 

I stood that night in front of a 
half-filled house for the first show, 
a vague dread of that waiting black 
web of darkness stretched between the 
five mirrors began to bother me. Could 
it be that simple three dimensional 
space could be converted by simple re- 
peated light force dynamically reflect- 
ing over and over — distorted into a 
weird path between adjacent worlds of 
space-time? I brushed away the silly 
fears, and went into my spiel, while out 
of the wings shuffled old Mary, the 
derelict we had hired to play the part 
of the aged creature converted by the 
“Fountain of Youth” into a young 
chorus girl. 

Behind the shimmering mist of chem- 
icals spraying upward, I could see that 
black star-shaped web of light force 
spread like a great spider, five feet tall 
and five-armed, big in the center as a 
man’s body. 

Old Mary, inobedience to my mo- 
tions and my words — “Presto, age be- 
comes youth! Abra and cadabra and 
OOM himself will take away this 
shriveling mask and give you once 
again the glory of youth. Enter the 
Fountain!” — advanced to the center of 
the mist. I pressed the foot button that 
caused the mist to shoot higher, it’s con- 



cealing screen of coiling mist, white 
and thick and eery. 

Now, while the audience could not 
see beyond the mist, I could; and Mary 
ducked backward into the center of the 
mirror arrangement, expecting to feel 
Trixie Benson, the smooth little num- 
ber who played the part of the re- 
juvenated Mary, brush by as she 
stepped into the center of the mist. 

It was as pretty an act as there was 
on any Burlesque stage, which are not 
usually noted for complex or artistic 
work, and I waited impatiently, not 
wanting Trixie to spoil the effect by 
coming on late as she had before. But 
my eyes were telling me that both of 
them were there in that black star of 
shadow behind the fountain, for neither 
of them had left. I should have seen 
Mary’s back retreating behind the cur- 
tain to the wings, and should have seen 
Trixie’s young curves within the mist, 
but neither of them had come through 
that black star on either side ! 

I waved my hands and let up on the 
hidden foot pedal of the mist spray, 
hoping Trixie had gotten in place in 
the center — but no Trixie. I stepped on 
it again and the white coils shot up 
high, as I intoned — “Obdoolah, Geni- 
urkim, EEniequey, oodey, omesing- 
say!” 

Meaning “Queenie, do something, 
for Pete’s sake!” She was the only one 
watching the act from the wings, there 
wasn’t anyone else to appeal to. No- 
one else give a darn. 

How did I know a fool like me would 
stumble onto genuine ancient magic? 
I still didn’t believe anything was 
wrong except that Trixie wasn’t in her 
place. Which was not unusual. 

Queenie came striding out, her long 
lovely legs making poetry beneath a 
white wooly coat she always put on 
when she came off after a dance. I let 
up on the mist, the fountain died down 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



95 



to a foot high, looked at it — exclaimed 
in stage surprise: “The old lady has 
disappeared!” 

Queenie took me up, looking into the 
mist, and screaming — “She’s gone. 
You’ve gone and done it, you bumbling 
magician! Bring her back here.” 

Queenie was acting for the audience, 
but I wasn’t so sure I was acting. 

Which was all very well, but while 
the Queen and I peered and acted sur- 
prised and waited for Trixie to show 
behind the mirrors, a little man walked 
calmly out from the black web of 
shadows. 

The Queen screamed and nearly 
fainted in my arms, the audience 
howled with laughter. I just stared at 
the little gremlin. It wasn’t that he 
was so small. It was the angular dark 
gloomy naked body of him, like an 
african carving of a savage God, the 
malevolent stare of the deep set eyes 
... He turned around and went back 
into the web between the mirrors. 

npHE audience began to clap. It must 
have been effective all right. But 
wasted on that audience, so far as sav- 
vying what stage craft it must take to 
do a thing as real as that! 

My knees were knocking together. I 
stood there nonplussed, or fear-stricken, 
but the Queen thought I was having 
stagefright, I guess, for she took over. 

“Now don’t worry, Frank. I’ll get 
the little man back and ask him where 
is the little old lady?” 

Before I could stop her she stepped 
into that fountain, and I had auto- 
matically stepped on the lever to make 
the mist rise and hide her disappear- 
ance. I took my foot off, but just in 
time to see her half way through the 
wall of black nothing that edged the 
star of shadow behind the mist-foun- 
tain. Half in and half out — and cut off 
as clean as a knife — and the next in- 



stant she was gone! 

Through my head rang the antique 
words of the rhyme from the book : 

“Them she throwed in came outen 
ne’er ! 

For bid good-bye what goes in 
thare!” 

Before I could do anything but press 
my two fists to my temples trying to 
think — two more of the little men 
walked out of the shadow and glared 
at me. They were not anything a man 
could look at and fully grasp. Small 
and strangely angled bodies, like alien 
carvings, or surrealist paintings, they 
struck a sensing of vast alien dimen- 
sions into me that even the departure 
of the Queen’s lovely self had not done. 

Sandra Uvald, Lola’s best friend and 
herself a talented stripper and fine 
looking woman, came running out on 
the stage. The uproar was deafening, 
with a third of the audience on their 
feet, shouting incoherently. 

I couldn’t hear what Sandra said, but 
I could guess. I bent my head to her 
lips, she shouted: “What’s going on, 
anyway? Where’s Trixie? She went 
behind the mirrors and never came out 
on this side or the other!” 

I bellowed, “That’s nothing! Did 
you see the gremlins that came out?” 

Sandra looked at me as if I was 
crazy. I decided maybe she was right. 
The audience shouted and clapped and 
whistled and stomped. Sandra had on 
only a gaudy red dressing gown thrown 
over her rhinestone G-string and net 
halter. 

“Take it off, Sandra. Take it off!” 
the boys shouted, whistling happily, 
unaware entirely of what was going on. 

Sandie looked at the noisy crowd, 
that had been filling up steadily since 
the show began. She smiled and held 
up her hand. A dead silence fell, be- 
cause the regulars there practically 
worshipped Sandra and Lola the Queen. 



96 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



That clear sugary voice of hers rang 
eerily to me, but I suppose it sounded 
fine to everyone else. 

“Friends, a strange thing has hap- 
pened. This magician has caused three 
people to disappear, vanish — pouf! 
And he can’t tell where they are or 
get them back!” 

They all started laughing, for they 
thought naturally she was kidding. 
She went right on above the laughter: 
“Little Sandra is going into the Foun- 
tain of Youth to see what happened 
to the help! Hold my coat, Frank.” 
She tossed the vivid red gown, satin 
thing that made me think of blood, into 
my arms and the audience howled as 
she turned once with her arms raised, 
glorious smooth flesh perfectly molded 
— and stepped, alive, vital — into that 
thing that I called the Fountain of 
Youth and now realized must be only 
a door to death. 

T TRIED to stop her, my mind giv- 
ing me shudders of self recrimina- 
tion — “If only I had told them all what 
I was doing, if only I hadn’t kept it to 
myself!” 

Sandra was only trying to help me 
out of a situation she saw was going 
to reflect badly on me, perhaps lose 
me the new job I was so proud to have 
made good in. She didn’t realize at all 
what she was stepping into. . . . 

The audience bellowed at my acting 
as I tried to stop her. 

Graceful as a Goddess, she eluded 
me, sliding past my outstretched hands 
with a dancing step — slid into the mist 
as easily as a wraith. I was sure she 
was going to be one. The last I saw 
of her was one glorious nude leg and 
rhinestone glittering strip around her 
dimpled hip — and the rest of her sliced 
off by the black star’s edges. And it 
wasn’t any mirror effect, the mirrors 
were behind that black reaching place 



between. It was the focus of the light 
planes where they formed a multi-sided 
figure in space, a star shaped poly- 
hedron of force line and plane of light 
re-enforced by reflection and re-reflec- 
tion until they formed the insupportable 
strain on the matrix of our own space- 
time that caused that other world ad- 
jacent to touch in reality of solid sub- 
stantial simultaneity. Was it synchro- 
nized vibrance caused by the repeated 
light impact? Was it space-tortion set 
up by the light flow’s repetition? Was 
it truly ancient magic I was witness- 
ing — something no man can under- 
stand but only guess at? 

I was yelling to the vanished San- 
dra — “No! No! That’s the fourth di- 
mension, you can’t go in there!” 

The audience was laughing fit to kill, 
and I stopped, feeling just as ludicrous 
and impotent as they thought I was 
acting. 

There was only one thing to do. My 
heart contracted as if frozen, my skin 
broke out in cold sweat, and I stripped 
off my coat as if about to plunge into 
water. Something inside me seemed to 
be shrilling to me — “You fool dabbling 
in magic has cost you the finest woman 
you will ever know. You might as well 
jump in too, you won’t enjoy life now! ” 

I took my tottering courage in my 
hands and stumbled after Lola and 
Sandra, through the mist, into the utter 
blackness of that star-shaped space be- 
tween the five facing mirrors. What 
else could a man do who knew that 
Lola’s heart was just as big as her sweet 
smile made you think it was? 

Strange, vibrating energy shook my 
body. My eyes saw whirling planes of 
light, vast sweeps of peculiar mixtures 
of light planes endlessly reflecting, and 
my feet sank softly into some strange 
stuff that was not matter as we know 
it. I stumbled over a body, and lay 
there for a long time, unconscious. 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



97 



Then I came to, my vision cleared, I 
got up and staggered on through the 
mists until a wind blew it all away and 
I saw — a Gremlin city! 

Those angular little hobgoblins com- 
ing and going, their endlessly piled im- 
possible houses of faceted ugly, illogi- 
cally assembled humps and rounds and 
angles of smeary brown plaster con- 
struction. 

The far mountains reached toward a 
sky that was not azure, but black. A 
sky that was only one vast hole in 
space, and here and there hung dizzily 
spinning pinwheels of fire. Not stars, 
nebulae, I guess — but close and big and 
spinning with visible motion! 

I took a step and shouted with sud- 
den fear. For I was sailing end over 
end through the sticky ill-smelling air. 
As I floated slowly down, I saw awaiting 
me a net in the hands of a dozen angu- 
lar ugly little men, their malevolent 
eyes waiting for me with every possible 
evil glee expressed in them. Or so it 
seemed to me then. 

HTHEY carted me off easily, though 
A it took all of them to do it — and 
dumped me through the door of one of 
the peculiar “houses” which I only 
guessed were houses because there was 
nothing that looked more like a house 
in evidence. 

As I struggled out of the net, beside 
me I heard Lola, saying: “So you’re 
here! At last! Now, would you please 
explain just what this is all about before 
I go crazy?” 

I looked up at her beautiful and dis- 
traught face. She never looked better 
to me. I sighed, and murmured, “You 
won’t like it if I do, Lola!” 

“You’d better. I can kick your teeth 
in before you get out of that net! You’d 
better do some explaining. . . .” 

“It all began with that old book that 
old Black Harry told me not to read. 



That’s what did it! Did anybody ever 
tell you not to read a book?” 

“I see. Now you wish you hadn’t! 
Go on!” 

“Well, there were lots of ancient 
things in the book, stuff nobody can 
understand now-a-days. But that mag- 
ical experiment it described was a 
method of creating with light reflections 
a doorway into what it called “night.” 
It must be a higher-dimension! I re- 
arranged the mirrors behind the Foun- 
tain of Youth so that they were like the 
diagram in the book. And here we 
are!” I concluded, unwrapping the last 
of the net from about my ankles. 

“That explains a lot to you, but it 
doesn’t help me, not a little bit. What 
are we going to do about it? Did it 
ever occur to your infantile mind that 
you were monkeying with first class 
danger of a higher order of dynamite? 
Did that bird brain of yours never 
think of the consequences?” 

“Well, you see, Queen, I didn’t ex- 
pect it to work. I was going to test it 
with some inanimate object first. But 
it took me so long there wasn’t time 
before the show. And the old lady 
came out and walked in before I could 
even think of stopping her. Besides, I 
was curious. Besides, I didn’t believe 
in it.” 

“Yes, yes, but what are we going 
to do? That show is going to turn into 
a riot if we don’t get back!” 

Lola began to pace up and down the 
long, narrow, peculiarly angled room 
like a panther in a trap. I sat down, 
my whole mind engaged — but not with 
the problem of the fourth dimension. 
Oh no ! The light effects upon the sub- 
tle nude planes of Lola’s perfect body, 
fully revealed in that entirely brief cos- 
tume of rhinestones and net and 
queenly satiny skin. That’s what I was 
thinking about! Time ticked by, Lola 
paced, now and then striking her hands 



98 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



together or pressing her palms against 
her temples as if her head would burst. 
I could feel the mental conflict she was 
going through, but strangely, I wasn’t 
built that way. I felt myself somehow 
like a sailor marooned on a tropical 
island with a beautiful girl — wonder- 
ful! I was alone at last with — “The 
Queen!” 

Suddenly that three-cornered impos- 
sible door slid open noiselessly, and an- 
other net full of thrashing human 
plumped in upon the rough brown 
greasily shining floor. From the blue 
suited figure inside came loud snorts 
and at last loud curses — “Dad blamed 
the ditig-danged crazy world. What in 
the name of impossible God is going on 
anyway? Judas priest and all the little 
priest. . . .” 

Lola and I stood side by side, watch- 
ing the contortions inside the net. Sud- 
denly the folds unfolded and out thrust 
the sweating face of . . .a cop. a 
cop. 

“Dan!” Lola knew him. She knew 
everybody. “Dan Daniels! How did 
you get here?” 

“I’m asking you, Queenie. How did 
I get here. Your pal, Finkelstein the 
manager, rushes out to me where I’m 
standing perfectly at peace with the 
world and tells me four people disap- 
peared in the “Fountain of Youth.” 
Well, I knew what the Fountain of 
Youth was, and I figured you and 
Frankie had thought up a royal ribbing 
for the house and all concerned . . . 
a new stunt of some kind. I rushes 
on, wanting to do my part for you, 
Queen, like any man would that was 
a man, and here I am! NOW magician, 
suppose you do a little talking. Or 
do I wrap this little used night-stick 
around your head until you do? I’m 
not a man can be made a fool of, not 
when I’m conscious! And I ain’t drunk, 
Frankie the Magic-man, I ain’t drunk. 
So give with some information!” 



T TOLD him the truth, just as I had 
^ the Queen, and Dan the cop sat 
there with the net draped like a sarong 
around his hips and his uniform and 
looked at me. 

“If I wasn’t here in nowhere land 
I’d run you in as a dangerous psyco- 
pathic. As it is, I guess we’ll let it pass. 
But mind you, I don’t believe it! I’m 
just biding my time.” 

Dan Daniels completed his unwrap- 
ping and then, like me, gave himself 
up to serious contemplation — not of the 
peculiar things that might be seen 
through the window over our heads, not 
to speculation as to the wonderful 
things that might befall us here in no- 
where — but to the subtle undulations 
of Queenie’s near-nude body as she re- 
sumed her nervous pacing up and down. 
“Even in the fourth dimension,” I mur- 
mured. 

“Even what?” asked Queenie. 

“Even in the fourth dimension, man 
is man and beauty rules him,” I con- 
cluded, and the Queen snorted. She 
was too used to being stared at to notice 
two mere malese who could not take 
their eyes off her. 

“What became of Trixie and San- 
dra? Yes, and the old lady?” asked 
Lola. 

“Yeah, there was supposed to be 
four or five of you. And there’s only 
two!” 

“Two’s enough!” I ejaculated, re- 
fusing to consider any further com- 
plexities of life. I had finally torn my 
eyes away from Queenie’s strip-tease 
undress, and began to clamber up the 
rough wall toward the window over our 
heads. I looked down, and a dizzy 
nauseating sensation swept over me. I 
let go and floated down to the floor. I 
sat down, holding my head. 

“Now what’s the matter? Can’t you 
stand the sight of the little people?” 
asked Dan. 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



99 




100 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Look for yourself,” I groaned. 

Dan clambered easily up the rough 
surface, which seemed to lean outward 
at a seventy degree angle with the hori- 
zontal. 

“Geez, Frankie, what do you call it? 
I never seen nothing like it I Am I 
looking straight down or straight up or 
what?” 

“I don’t know, Dan, but don’t fall 
out! You’d never stop . . 

I didn’t finish. From outside some- 
where began to come a fiendish cater- 
wauling, the piping of unearthly flutes 
and horns, the steady rhythmic beat of 
myriad feet. 

The door flew open and the noise 
thrust into the weird shaped chamber 
like an unwelcome and drunken guest. 
Lola peered out. I peered out, bending 
to look under Queenie’s bare, smooth 
and heavenly arm. Dan peered out, 
and cursed. 

Along the astounding causeway, 
which hung along the far weird city 
like an ugly snake caught by spider- 
webs, came a procession. 

All the little ugly men, dressed now 
in glittering paraphernalia and orna- 
ments, ornaments that somehow in 
spite of the attempt at decoration yet 
looked like many crushed and bright 
tin cans strung on strings and wound 
about their angular, bumpy bodies — 
were marching in procession. At the 
head of the procession danced three 
weirdly decorated and painted Grem- 
lins, rattling great square drums full 
of pebbles, I guess. Masks on their 
faces made far worse than nature had 
intended, grimacing mouths from ear 
to ear, horns; and tails of flopping 
brown, greasy feathers — everything 
here seemed to be brown and dirty 
with grease — or was it the strange 
light from the blazing, whirling, too- 
close unborn stars; glowing, spinning 
clouds overhead — that made every- 



thing appear so filthy? 

Straight up to our door came the 
procession’s head, and the three danc- 
ing homunculi came straight in upon 
us, began to motion us out the door 
with motions of the big square rattles. 
As if we were fowl or cows, to be 
driven by fright at the sounds of the 
rattles. 

T GOT the idea, walked out the door, 
* stood waiting for the other two. 
They lined up beside me, and the pro- 
cession followed us as we shuffled 
awkwardly along, trying to keep our 
balance and our dignity where every 
unwary step sent us four feet into the 
air. 

That causeway twisted and slanted 
this way and that, seeming to follow 
the tug of an unearthly gravity, for we 
remained upright even when it seemed 
the landscape itself was vertical. I 
knew no man could know the planes or 
differences of this world, or know that 
these creatures, so like ourselves in 
some ways, and so unlike in others — 
could not be four-dimensional crea- 
tures. It had come to me now that we 
were not really in the fourth dimen- 
sion, but that the light-cube door I had 
created had merely made two adjacent 
worlds touching in the folds of the 
fourth dimension be simultaneous in- 
stead of only adjacent. Had somehow 
created a path between two worlds or- 
dinarily separated by the un-under- 
standable vagaries of irregular fourth 
dimension form. That the negligible 
force of the reflecting rays of light yet 
had power to create such a path was 
impossible but true! Perhaps it was 
like a match, small in itself, yet the 
flame from one match can burn down 
a whole city — or a forest. The vibra- 
tions of constantly rebounding light, 
reflecting itself over and over in a 
repetitive re-enforcing of some ancient 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



101 



pattern of known mystic potency — of 
awful wisdom from the past which 
knew the innermost secrets of space 
and time and matter — Somehow did 
build up such a strain on the ordinary 
fabric of space as to cause about them- 
selves an opening, a break-through 
along fourth dimensional force planes 
between adjacent worlds. . . . 

I gave up, and let my eyes follow 
the serpentine winding of the impos- 
sible roadway hung by the spider-web 
thin strands of cable from the points of 
the houses — queer, many-angled struc- 
tures which seemed supported them- 
selves by some unsubstantial mass of 
brown, heaving matter that anyone 
could see would not support one’s 
weight. A city sitting on mud, it was; 
queer brown hateful appearing stuff, 
wet and glistening — and the paths from 
house to house and to the wide twist- 
ing cable-hung road all suspended above 
the mud that yet supported those 
buildings. 

The big central building, the palace 
of the king, I suppose it was to them; 
was the center of many of these cable- 
hung roads, like the center of a vast 
web. In the big triangular doorway we 
went, and after us came the proces- 
sion, the rattle-shaking leaders, the 
gloomily tramping, ornamented host 
trailing behind, their little faces and 
long noses and their thin ugly lips 
twisted all into a mean expression of 
waiting malevolence. 

“You know,” said Dan, “if I had 
been invited I wouldn’t have come. I 
never felt so unwelcome in my life!” 

I whispered, “Pretend to like what- 
ever happens, no matter how hard it is. 
That’s the best advice I can give you. 
I used to study psychology. If you 
can seem to be on their side — O.K. 
But if they get the idea we don’t like 
them — look out!” 

“Keep smiling, eh?” asked the Queen, 



and I nodded. 

She put on her best stage teeth- 
exposing grimace and kept it there. She 
knew how! On her it looked swell. On 
me I knew it must look awful, but I 
kept grinning. Did it help? That 
gloomy crew never lifted an eyebrow 
or twisted a lip. The same unsmiling 
gloom and mean, unanimous, sullen ex- 
pression. 

I couldn’t have felt more alone, as 
far as they went, if I had been marooned 
on a desert island. 

npHE king was a caricature, a gnome 
A out of a story book; a thin, long 
faced little man with narrow shoulders, 
pot belly, long jeweled fingers, drum- 
ming on the carved wood of the throne. 
His crooked shins were bare, and a 
pair of bangled knickers which reached 
nearly to his armpits was his sole cos- 
tume, aside from armlets aglitter with 
gems, and an iron collar around his 
neck. His staff of office was ivory, 
white and gleaming, a polished bone 
that looked horribly reminiscent of its 
one time place in life as a human thigh- 
bone. 

He glowered down at us, probably 
wondering what he was going to say 
to people who wouldn’t know what he 
was talking about. I broke the un- 
comfortable silence by smiling as en- 
gagingly as I could, and Lola giggled 
nicely, but her arm against mine felt 
as cold as marble. 

Dan decided not to be left out, and 
boomed: “Greetings to you ! Just what 
do you want with us, anyway?” 

At the feet of the monarch something 
stirred and I noticed what their immo- 
bility had concealed before — the King’s 
women. I hadn’t been sure before, be- 
cause of their uniform ugliness, just 
which were male and which female, but 
now I knew I was gazing upon the 
selected beauties of the King’s harem, 



102 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



stretched about his feet in what may 
have been supposed to be a languorous 
adoration- — and one of them stretched 
her face up on a thin boneless neck and 
the King leaned forward to hear. Then 
he gave a kind of bark that may have 
been a guffaw, though you weren’t able 
to tell, and the girl — thin, angular and 
mud brown and completely ugly — 
though her face was smooth and not 
bumpy, her skin clear and smooth on 
her bare shoulders and prominent but- 
tocks — got up and approached us. 

Waist high she stood, before the 
Queen, who is a good five eleven in her 
heels, and she always has heels. Lola 
smiled upon her with all the benevo- 
lence of a Venus, and for me, with quite 
as devastating an effect. 

Then the girl really surprised me. 
She began to whisper: “I learned your 
language from the other two, the old 
one and the young one. They came 
through the magic fountain long, long 
ago. They said that sometime soon the 
magician who had sent them would 
come for them. I believed them, but 
you never came. I learned the language 
so that I could go back with you. Will 
you take me?” 

If I had been unconscious with sur- 
prise before, now I really was stunned. 
I said: “You learned the language from 
two who came through long ago! But 
nobody came through long ago ... it 
was only minutes ago!” 

“You are Demon Frank, Magician, 
aren’t you?” 

Her pronunciation was poor, but 
plain enough . . . weakly I nodded my 
head. “I guess!” 

“Then your friends came here years 
ago. We have awaited your coming 
with great interest. Now you will take 
me back with you!” 

“It’s all right with me. Just show 
me the place we came in!” 

“I will do that, but not now. Soon!” 



She turned away, held up her thin 
ugly hand, began to harangue the for- 
mal line-up of the Gremlins with a 
series of word-sounds that no recording 
machine could have held in a groove. 
After minutes of this, we were led to a 
place before the throne, and squatted 
down in a line with several Gremlin 
dignitaries squatting on each side. 

KIND of pageant or dance was 
performed, through which we sat. 
The procession which had led us to the 
palace wound and jumped, shook their 
rattles, nodded their heads, shuffled 
their feet, in and out and round and 
round until I was dizzy and nauseated 
not alone with the motion but with the 
peculiar muddy smell of sweat and wet, 
evil air. 

Queenie whispered, “What is she 
talking about, the two who came before 
years ago?” 

“Everything is crazy here, Lola. 
Time as well as space is different here. 
While we monkeyed around on the stage 
for a minute or two before following 
“She” through the fountain time itself 
was rushing along here in the next 
adjacent world with no connection with 
our own time rate at all. Seconds there 
seem to be months here . . .” 

“Then how did Dan arrive within 
such a short time?” 

“Doesn’t mean a thing. When I came 
through, the shock was so great I 
passed out. I may have lain uncon- 
scious for what was years here, but 
only a few minutes back in our world — 
Iain or stood or fell — for long minutes 
— years here, still on the borderline be- 
tween the worlds. Then I came through, 
slid or fell into this world.” 

“I stopped too, the strange lights and 
electric shock, the waves of energy 
beating at me . . . I stopped for a long 
pause, afraid to go on . . .” 

“Exactly. And years passed here 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



103 



while we were pausing between the 
worlds. Dan rushed right on through, 
rescue bent . . 

“Yeah, that’s right. I did! But how 
did you know?” Dan had begun to 
listen in. 

“That’s what we’re talking about! 
The funny looking skinny friend, the 
king’s girl friend, said the other two 
came through long years ago. We were 
just figuring out where we were all that 
time.” 

“Years! What are you talking 
about?” 

“Never mind. I’ll explain it all when 
we get back.” I didn’t want to miss a 
trick here in this court. Too much de- 
pended on understanding this place and 
these fiend-faced small ungainly people 
to stop to argue about the relative mo- 
tions of separate time-flows with a cop. 

The redundant circling of the Grem- 
lin court led to a climax — a thunderous 
booming of drums — shaking of rattles, 
and shrill screams, a rhythmic repeat- 
ing chant lending a background to it 
all. At the peak of the furious dance, 
the dancers began one by one to strip 
off their ornaments and cast them at 
the Queen’s fair feet! 

I looked at Queenie. The pile of glit- 
tering gew-gaws grew and grew. As 
each dancer took off the bangles and 
tossed them on the heap, he backed 
away from the Queen with his head 
bent low, finishing by falling to his 
knees far- enough away to let the others 
pass and make their contribution. Soon 
we were surrounded by these kneeling 
suppliants and protected by a barrier 
of ornaments. 

I picked up one of the heavy strings 
of bangles, objects the size of a baseball 
and surprisingly hefty, considering the 
gravity reduction here. The thing was 
either alloyed silver or gold, it was too 
bright-colored for lead. Set in the metal 
were semi-polished gems, big as mar- 



bles. I looked at Queenie. 

“I don’t know what these guys mean 
by this, Lola, but if I’m right, you have 
several million dollars worth of raw 
gold and crude jewels there in front of 
you. Just what are they throwing the 
stuff at you for?” 

Even as I asked, the words of the old 
rhyme rang in my head, echoing down 
from an antiquity I could only guess at: 

“There was an Elf queen called the 
Golden, 

In that hole it was her custom, 

To cast her enemies and her victims, 

And to get back gold and silver and 
gems — - 

For monstrous little men came out 
to serve her!” 

IDEA came to me, and I beck- 
oned to the thin brown girl who 
had gone back to the feet of her king. 
She rose and walked toward me, her 
head bobbing toward the Queen. 

“Why do they give these to the 
Queen?” I asked her, pointing to the 
pile of precious hardware. 

“She is the answer to an ancient 
prophecy among us. From the land of 
the immortals, the Golden One will 
come again. She is the Golden Queen 
of the legend, whom the Dryne used to 
serve in the other world. To them she 
is an immortal.” 

“The girl’s answer was clear enough. 
They took Lola Murphy for the same 
Elf Queen who had long ago used the 
mirrors to make a place to throw peo- 
ple she didn’t like. The time was so 
different between the worlds that a per- 
son on earth probably lived a hundred 
of the lifetimes here in this crazy mixed 
up geography. So they would seem 
immortal, it would be called the world 
of the immortals. And these weird little 
people were called the Dryne. I was 
learning. 

“What were the customs of this leg- 



104 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



endary Queen? What did she do here, 
how did she go back?” I asked the 
girl, nervously hoping for some clew 
to a course of action which would place 
us on top. 

“Much is forgotten, it has been so 
long. Only do we know that in the days 
of our forefathers the Golden Queen 
came through, and held festival for 
days — then went back to her world. 
That is all anyone could tell you.” 

I turned to Lola. “There it is, Queen. 
You dance for them, talk to them, get 
them to join in and loosen up, get them 
good natured — and back we go with a 
load of jewels.” 

“It might be a good idea to sell them 
a little flesh worship, at that. It might 
be worth a life or two . . .” Lola smiled 
at me. “Not that I care about anyone 
here . . .” 

Lola stood up, raised her lovely arms, 
letting the brief wooly coat slide off to 
the pave. Here, contrasted with the 
Dryne’s skinny, outrageously ugly 
bodies; the smooth glorious rounds and 
muscled planes of her perfect figure 
stood out in a beauty unperceived even 
by me before. She was a Goddess, here, 
and to these people, an immortal. She 
said several words, not meaning to be 
understood, but as an opening for the 
dance she began. It was one of those 
slow, creepy dances; where the dancer 
seems to invoke some unseen presence 
— I could tell that Lola had chosen it 
to give the impression of contact with 
the world we had just left behind. Pos- 
turing, slowly moving her limbs and 
bending back the perfection of her 
columnar torso to reveal all the mus- 
cled ivory beauty, she built up there 
in that impossible, horrible court a 
vision of the worship of unseen beauty 
— even while she built up by the lan- 
guage of gestures the impulse to wor- 
ship beauty among the Dryne. Her 
beauty! She spoke of it with every 



trick known to dancers, with every bur- 
lesque bump and sensual shiver mingled 
with a knowledge of true dramatic 
dancing. And the Dryne watched with 
their gloomy, wide-gashed mouths open 
and drooling, their beady eyes aglitter 
with desire. As she climaxed the dance 
with a spread arm gesture, they fell to 
their knees in unison as at a command 
— and I whispered to the Dryne girl 
still waiting beside our group. 

“Announce her as the Golden Queen 
of old time, come again to her friends, 
the Dryne, to bring wisdom and pleas- 
ure to them, to open again the pathway 
between the worlds so that both we 
and they might profit. Make it good, 
and I will get you what you want — a 
trip back with us.” 

TN THE silence, the girl began to 

chant in the squeaky, raspy lan- 
guage of the Dryne, a monotonous 
repetition of several phrases over and 
over. What she said, I don’t know — 
but for the first time the gloomy faces 
lit up with a half-hearted smile, and the 
heads nodded agreement right and left. 

“Now tell them we must go back to 
arrange for their wishes to be granted, 
and that we will return to them with 
gifts to startle them with our gratitude 
for these gifts they have made our 
Queen.” 

The thin little brown girl spoke 
again, and I wondered at the response, 
the furious shaking of heads in the 
negative, the discussion that soon rose 
in a high ear-splitting gabble every- 
where. They did not want Lola to leave 
— not ever. 

The King, who had watched the 
dance with particularly greedy eyes, 
now stood up and held up his hands to 
quiet them. He began to talk, furiously 
and at length. 

When he was through the brown girl 
translated to me. 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



105 



“This stranger woman must not rule 
us again as she did in the old time. We 
rule ourselves, and no one or nothing 
can say to us: go and come, I leave or 
I stay. She shall be my woman, and 
slave here with my other wives like 
any common woman. We will not let 
these people go hut kill them in the 
sacrifice as we have always done. We 
have waited too long. Let the death 
rites begin!” 

Even as the girl finished her trans- 
lation the three bangled priests and 
several others had sprung forward, pro- 
ducing nets from about their wrists, 
others were running toward us with 
larger nets. We were about to be made 
helpless again. I looked about in des- 
peration, my wits racing, seeking an 
opening in circumstance. At Dan’s belt 
hung his police revolver. 

“Dan, there’s only one thing, a mir- 
acle! You’ve got to shoot the king, or 
we’re done for. Quick, man, the king 
. . . with him dead, Lola will be the 
Queen again ! ” 

Dan, not understanding, still saw the 
nets in the air over our heads, falling 
slowly as did everything here. 

He tugged out the gun. Sighting with 
what seemed to me ridiculous care and 
much too long, he blasted at the King, 
once, twice. The King stood there, 
looking at us in a terrified surprise, 
stood — and suddenly the blood ran out 
of his mouth, he pitched forward on 
his face, rolled grotesquely down the 
steps of the dais. 

“Get on that throne, Queen,” I bel- 
lowed. “Get up there and act like a 
Queen, or else you’ll be darn sorry!” 

Gracefully eluding the nets now al- 
most upon us, Lola strode to the throne, 
mounting the dais without more than 
a scornful glance at the dead body. She 
knew what I meant, had not missed a 
single nuance of meaning about her. 
Standing there proud and triumphant 



and regal, she raised her hands for 
silence, and spoke. 

“My people, your king did not under- 
stand the benevolence I mean toward 
you. He caused his death by defying 
my magic. Now remember hereafter 
who is the Queen and your ruler, or you 
too will have to die as he has!” 

After her glorious, ringing tones, the 
dull grey monotone of the translator 
rose shrilly explaining what she had 
said. As she finished, the Queen ges- 
tured to the girl, and as she approached, 
placed her arm about her in affection. 

“Thank you very much, little one. 
What is your name?” 

“My name is Normea, O Queen.” 
“Then announce that hereafter you 
are the second in importance here, and 
your words are my words until you 
cause my displeasure. I am grateful 
to you.” 

* * * 

' | 'HAT was the most astounded audi- 
ence that ever sat in the worn 
seats of a Burlesque theatre — when we 
came through. Although we had been 
in that screwball world for what seemed 
at least a week’s time, (and Sandra, 
who had never reached there at all, 
swore she had been suspended in a grey 
colud for years) while Trixie and the 
old woman Mary swore they had lived 
for years in the quarters of the King’s 
women — here on the stage of the Troc 
it was only some twenty minutes later. 
There was just no correlating time and 
the fourth dimension so far as I could 
see — if it was the fourth. 

Two comedians had rushed out after 
my disappearance in the fountain and 
began a furious distraction to cover the 
disastrous mystery of the Mirrors be- 
hind the fountain. 

They were still at it, chasing each 
other, trying to take the clothes off a 
chorus girl, slapping each other around, 



106 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



and getting off their whole bag of gags 
while Feinstein and the cops who had 
come to answer his insistent phoning 
searched the back stage and dressing 
rooms, all to no avail. 

We stepped out of the fountain right 
between the two comedians, and the 
big fat one fainted dead away. 

No wonder, for each of us was carry- 
ing an arm load of wired together 
trinkets, and each of us was followed 
by a little gremlin also loaded down 
with jewelry. 

I dumped my load of glittering junk 
in the center of the stage, and Sandra 
and Lola took up positions on each 
side. Dan stood in line with them, and 
Mary and Trixie did not stop, but ran 
right off the stage crying and sobbing 
with frantic relief. 

I started spieling, why I don’t know 
— but someone had to explain the weird 
appearance of the dozen little men who 
had followed us through, had to ex- 
plain the little knob heads that peeked 
out of the fountain and shyly ducked 
back, only to be replaced by another. 

“We have just been on a trip to the 
place where all magicians send the 
people they cause to disappear, and we 
brought back these gremlins to prove 
what has been concealed from the de- 
luded public so long: That magic is 
caused by gremlins alone. Here they 
are, and here are the gifts they gave us 
on our visit. If any of you gentlemen 
would like to vist the world of the 
gremlins, just step right up. . . 

The audience began to clap, to them 
it was a superb act, something so far 
above what they expected that they 
could not express their admiration. But 
there were no takers on the offer to 
go through the fountain — and I could 
understand why. Some of those people 
must have realized they had witnessed 
something so out of the ordinary as to 
be utterly unbelievable to ordinary 



man. 

I shook hands with each of the grem- 
lins who had carried our gifts, and Lola 
placed her hand on each bbny ugly 
shoulder in turn and smiled her good- 
by. They stepped back through the 
fountain, all but one small shy brown 
maid, and she had ran off the stage 
after Mary and Trixie, unable to bear 
the scrutiny of the battery of strange 
eyes. 

As quickly as the last little man had 
disappeared, I stepped behind the foun- 
tain and gave a mirror a nudge with my 
shoulder. I broke out in a cold sweat 
with realization that we would have 
been forever cut off if just one blunder- 
ing foot had stumbled against just one 
of those mystically aligned mirrors. 

The big black star of distorted space 
disappeared with a faint audible plop. 
I gave a vast sigh of relief and disre- 
garding any further attempt at a show, 
turned back to the heap of jewelery. 
Someone dropped the curtain in front 
of us, dragged off the still unconscious 
comedian. Lola turned to me, sug- 
gesting: 

“You know, Frank, we promised to 
send them back gifts to show our grati- 
tude. . . 

“They’re probably all dead of old 
age by now, we’ve been here all of five 
minutes.” 

“It doesn’t seem right, Frank!” 

“Look, Lola, you can open that trap- 
door into infinity again if you want to, 
but as for me, I’m leaving it strictly 
alone. Would you like to marry me, 
now that we’re both rich, or would you 
rather go into society?” 

“What would I do in society, 
Frank?” 

For a minute it didn’t register, then 
I got it. She meant yes! Impossible 
but true! 

* * * 

The only thing that ever bothers 



MIRRORS OF THE QUEEN 



107 



Lola and I here in our ranch outside 
Hollywood, is explaining where “Did 
you get such an odd looking servant? 
She’s positively hideous, and her eyes! 
Distinctly malevolent ! I wouldn’t trust 



her for a minute!” 

There’s one thing about our ranch- 
house. There isn’t a mirror in it ! Odd, 
isn’t it? 

THE END 




POWER THROUGH THE AIR 

★ By CARTER T. WAINWRIGHT * 



I N THIS age of atomic power, radar, and 
rocket ships we have seen the most fantastic 
dreams of the science-fictionists come true. 
Nothing, any longer, seems to be impossible. 
There are two gadgets, however, that the world is 
waiting for — and undoubtedly they will appear 
eventually. But right now there seems to have 
been little progress except in one of them. 

The first device that needs consideration is some 
sort of mechanism for the storage of electrical 
energy. Electrical batteries do not store electricity 
— they store chemical energy which is changed to 
electrical energy. There are two simple things 
which actually store electrical energy — the con- 
denser and the coil. The first stores power in 
the form of an electric field and the latter stores 
power in the form of a magnetic field. The 
trouble is that neither of these devices stores 
enough energy — mere driblets which have no 
meaning as far as doing real work is concerned. 
A fortune awaits the person who can invent some 
practical way of storing huge quantities of elec- 
trical energy that may be released under complete 
control. 

The next problem is the transmission of power 
without wires. This has been a dream of many 
men — Nicola Tesla among the more notable, as 
well as some of the best known scientists and 
inventors of all time. The funny thing is this: 
the wireless transmission of power actually exists 
today ! — it is radio. But everyone knows the 
drawback there. Not enough power is trans- 
mitted and what is sent spreads over such a huge 
area that it arrives at any one receiver in minute, 
infinitesimal amounts. An ordinary radio re- 
ceiver picks up not more than a few millionths of 
a watt of electrical power. This applies to radar 
transmission as well. But the latter — radar trans- 
mission — supplies us with a clue of sorts to the 
practical transmission of energy. In radar we are 



dealing with beams of radio waves, closely focused 
so as to concentrate the maximum amount of 
energy on the receiving machine. By continually 
narrowing the beam, by using every variety of 
parabolic reflector or similar focusing aid, it is 
possible to get a great deal more energy on the 
receiving end. 

Unfortunately even this isn’t the answer. Radio 
and radar beams near the surface of the earth 
fall off in intensity inversely as the first power of 
the distance. So as long as the receiver is very 
near the transmitter, a fair amount of power can 
be received,' but the minute the transmitter is 
moved more than a few yards away from the re- 
ceiver there is little energy to be caught. 

Probably the answer is that some entirely new 
approach must be devised. A method must differ 
radically from the conventional techniques now 
employed. In an issue of Amazing Stories of 
not long ago, a solution was suggested in which 
the ground formed one part for a conductor and 
radiation was the other. It is not likely that this 
would prove feasible, because it is already being 
done. That is just about how an ordinary radio 
transmitter and receiver work. No, the answer 
lies along entirely different lines. 

That the answer will be found of course is with- 
out question. It is just a matter of time. What 
is so disheartening is that no new avenues of ap- 
proach have even suggested themselves. At 
present we know as little as we did ten years ago. 
Some way must be found to concentrate radiation 
into a tight, narrow beam, almost like a stiletto, 
and to hurl this beam at an appropriate receiver. 
Even parabolic reflectors cannot yet do that with 
ordinary or high frequency radiation. Perhaps 
the solution lies in some radically new type of 
transmitter employing some other apparatus be- 
sides an antenna to send forth its power. 



Contract 
for a 
Body 

by Webb 
Marlowe 



E VERYONE at the bar looked at 
his drink as Montrose passed by. 
He peered eagerly for a recep- 
tive face. When he reached the end of 
the bar, Montrose knew it was the 
brush-off. He stopped then, uncertain, 
wondering whether to go back to the 
street or try among the tables in the 
rear. 

Callaghan, the bartender, saw him 
standing there. Cal’s broad, Irish face 
softened a little. He put his hands flat 
on the bar and leaned over it. 

“If it’s a drink ye’re wantin’, 
Monty,” he croaked, “I’ll give ye wan 
—and no more.” 



Montrose managed a wry grin. 

“I need more than a drink, Cal. 
But thanks, anyway.” He caught sight 
of Jack Rann, sitting alone at a table 
in the corner. “I — I have to se Rann.” 

“Whatever ye need, he won’t give it 
to ye.” Callaghan’s voice was bitter, 
but low. 

Montrose squared his broad shoul- 
ders and strode to the table in the cor- 
ner. Behind him, a juke box blared 
above a rumble of conversation, but he 
didn’t hear it. 

Jack Rahn looked up as Montrose 
stood over him. 

“ ’Lo, chum.” The little man’s voice 




Frank Montrose needed money 
badly so he sold bis body, to be 
delivered after his death — or so he 
thought . . . 



too late. Frank Montrose screamed hoarsely as the fender of the truck struck him . . . 



109 




110 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



was flat. He did not ask Montrose to 
sit down. 

“Hello, Jack. Look, I want to talk 
to you.” 

“I’m expecting company, chum.” 
“It’ll only take a minute, Jack. Lis- 
ten.” 

Montrose paused. When Rann made 
no move, Montrose pulled out a chair 
and sat down. He stared across the 
scarred table-top at the thin face, trying 
not to hate the evil little man. 

Jack Rann gave him a slow stare that 
took in the frayed collar, the wrinkled 
tie, unpressed suit. 

“Yeah, I know.” Montrose’s mouth 
twisted. “I look like a tramp.” 
“Chum, you are a tramp.” 

“Maybe. Everybody isn’t as lucky 
as you, Jack. Most people have their 
ups and downs. Right now, I’m down.” 
Rar.n shrugged. He sipped slowly at 
his drink. 

“This is what I wanted to see you 
about. I’ve got a terrific tip on a 
hundred-to-one shot.” 

Rann’s laugh grated through the 
smoky air. Two men at the bar turned 
their heads sharply toward the noise, 
then looked quickly back at their 
drinks. Rann’s laugh was a rare — and 
unpleasant, thing. 

“Save your breath, Monty,” Rann 
said. “This hot tip — you want to bor- 
row the dough from me for a bet.” 
“Yes. But this is my chance! It 
may sound screwy — but I’ve got a real 
hunch! I know that horse is going to 
win ! ” He gripped the table’s edge with 
both hands as he leaned forward. 
“Lend me a hundred bucks, Jack and 
I’ll give you half the take. Five 
grand!” 

“Scram, chum.” 

Montrose leaned forward still. In- 
wardly, he writhed at the sight of the 
gloating face before him. He hated 
himself for asking Rann for the money. 



But he had to. He knew the horse 
would win and he had to bet on it. 
“It’s a cinch, Jack!” 

Rann shook his head slowly, tantaliz- 
ingly. His slate eyes showed a brief 
flash of mirth, were cold again. 

“I’ve done you favors, Jack. A 
hundred bucks isn’t much.” 

“It is to me. That’s why I’ve got a 
hundred. 

TV /TONTROSE leaned back in his 
chair, expelling his pent-up breath 
in a deep sigh. He stared down at his 
hands, disgusted at the grime beneath 
his nails. Five thousand dollars would 
paw for a lot of manicures. 

He peered up at Rann. 

“You don’t know where I could get 
it?” 

The little gambler started to shake 
his head, then stopped. He laughed, 
showing all his teeth. 

“Why Monty, I think I do. That is, 
if you really want the dough.” 

He laughed again, enjoying the mad 
hope in Montrose’s face. 

“Of course I want it.” 

“Well, then, sell your body. It’s 
not worth much, but you’ll get a hun- 
dred for it.” 

“What!” 

“Sell your body, I said. To a hos- 
pital.” 

“You little — !” Montrose pulled him- 
self out of his chair. “Sell my body! 
What kind of malarkey is that!” 
Montrose knew then he had had 
enough. He was still man enough to 
step on a rat. He drew back his fist. 

“All right, dope,” Rann snapped. 
“I’m trying to give you a tip.” Ignoring 
the threatening fist, he took out a cigar- 
ette case, selected one and lit it. “Any 
big hospital will buy your body. You 
just sign a paper, so your body’s theirs 
when you die, and they give you a 
hundred bucks.” 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



111 



He grinned maliciously. 

“They cut it up, of course, but what 
do you care?” 

“You’re not fooling me?” 

“Seems to me there’s a hospital over 
on Maple Street. It won’t cost you 
anything to find out.” 

'HP HERE was a dim light over the 
entrance. Montrose opened a gate 
that clanked a little and walked softly 
toward the door. It didn’t look like a 
very big hospital and a heavy silence 
seemed to brood over it. Above him, 
on the fourth floor, a single window 
showed fight. 

Why the fight, Montrose wondered. 
Was some poor devil dying? Or was it 
the surgery? Montrose had a momen- 
tary vision of men around a table, 
cutting, cutting. ... He shuddered. 
He could see his own body, stiff in 
death, but robbed of death’s dignity. 

“Damn it!” he muttered. “I can’t 
do this!” 

Montrose stopped. 

But within him a voice snickered, 
what’s the difference between that and 
the potter’s field? 

There wasn’t any, of course. And 
Rann was probably lying. Probably. . . 

Montrose ran up the steps and 
pushed through the doors. 

The hall was dim to the point of 
blackness. Behind the receptionist’s 
curved counter was a switchboard. 
Above this, a single lamp was the hall’s 
sole fight. A man in a white coat sat 
at the board, dozing over a magazine. 

Montrose edged up to him. The 
orderly looked up sleepily. 

“Yes.” 

“I— I. . . .” 

Montrose’s throat went suddenly dry. 
He was overcome with an acute em- 
barrassment. 

“Yes? Are you ill?” 

“Oh, no! Not at all! Not at all!” 



It occurred to him that his value 
might be lessened if they didn’t think 
him perfectly sound. 

“No,” he said again, “I’m okay. 
Never been sick a day in my life!” 

The ordely frowned. 

“Well, then . . . ?” 

“I — well, I want to sell my body.” 

The orderly was wide awake now. 
He blinked at Montrose, then sniffed 
loudly. 

“I’m not drunk!” Montrose exclaim- 
ed. “I just want to sell the hospital my 
body to use after I’m dead. To ex- 
periment on.” 

He sighed. It was over. Now, in a 
few minutes, he’d have the money. But 
the orderly was grinning. 

“Gosh, I suppose they still do that, 
once in a while,” he chuckled. “There’s 
no law against it. And I suppose a big, 
public hospital can always use a cada- 
ver. But not us.” 

“Not you!” 

“Nope. Didn’t you read the sign? 
We just handle mental cases. We’re a 
private outfit.” 

“I see.” 

The inescapable odor of hospital 
hung on the air; the pungent blend of 
drugs, medicines and sickness. It 
fogged Montrose’s mind. There was 
a hazy, inner vision, of a horse gallop- 
ing across the finish fine — without even 
a dime of Montrose money on it. And 
there was Rann’s face, leering his secret 
smile. Montrose hated Rann, then. 
And, no matter what later happened, 
the hatred never completely left him. 

Still in the fog, he didn’t hear a door 
open down the hall, or the sound of 
quiet, but assured footsteps approach- 
ing. 

“Oh, good evening, Dr. Aloysio,” the 
orderly’s voice was respectful. “I didn’t 
know you were still here, sir.” 

“Yes. A knotty problem of re- 
search.” 



112 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Research I” 

The word snapped Montrose’s con- 
sciousness into the clear. He turned 
toward the doctor. 

“Ah, yes.” 

1V/TONTROSE saw a long, dark face, 
smooth shaven; deep-set eyes be- 
hind black-rimmed glasses. A fore- 
head that swooped in a pale, high dome 
before it met black hair. 

“Well, look....” 

The eyes behind the glasses confused 
him. His voice faltered to a stop. 

“I told you!” cried the orderly. 
“Don’t bother the doctor!” 

Dr. Aloysio’s smile was benign. 

“Is there something I can do?” he 
murmured. 

“Oh, no, sir!” exclaimed the orderly. 
“This man had the idea that we’d buy 
his body. I told him we wouldn’t and 
referred him to Generali” 

The doctor chuckled deep in his 
throat. He beamed at Montrose. 

“But the body seems saleable 
enough,” he smiled. “Sturdy and 
sound.” 

“Don’t kid with me,” choked Mont- 
rose. “I’m serious!” 

“My dear sir,” the doctor raised a 
pale hand. “I, too am serious. If you 
will just step into my office, I will show 
you just how serious I am!” 

“What!” gaped the orderly. 

Dr. Aloysio’s eyes blazed behind his 
glasses. The orderly gulped, then sat 
down hastily. He tried to pick up his 
magazine and it fell to the floor. 

Dr. Aloysio smiled at Montrose. 

“We experiment from time to time,” 
he murmured. “You offer your body 
for experiment, of course?” 

“Sure. Do what you damn please 
with it. After I’m dead!” 

“By all means, after you’re dead!” 
The doctor chuckled again. The 
orderly gave him a sidelong look. The 



man seemed afraid— and amazed at his 
fear. He stared furtively after them 
as the two entered Dr. Aloysio’s office. 

Montrose stood in the center of the 
room, trying to focus on what he saw. 
More dimness. A stand-lamp outlined 
easy chairs, a wall of books. A deep, 
rich carpet was beneath his feet. Then, 
out of the darkest corner, a rotund 
shape waddled toward him. 

“My associate,” murmured Dr. Aloy- 
sio. “Dr. Fesler, Mr. — ?” 

“Montrose. Frank Montrose.” 

“How do you do, sir?” Dr. Fesler’s 
hand was soft and moist. “You will 
pardon the darkness. I cannot stand 
light.” 

“His eyes,” said Aloysio. He moved 
behind Montrose, over to the vague 
bulk of a desk. “I’m afraid, Fesler, 
we’ll have to have the desk-lamp, at 
least.” 

Fesler put a hand in front of his eyes 
as the light came on. Montrose saw 
that he was wearing dark glasses. Both 
men stared calmly at him; Aloysio, 
erect by the desk, Fesler, directly in 
front of him. After a long pause, Fes- 
ler turned and rolled back to his dark 
corner. Still, they said nothing. 

Montrose tried to laugh. His throat 
was very dry. 

“I suppose you think I’m crazy,” 
his voice was so high it almost broke. 
“But I need money badly. I’ll sell you 
my body for — whatever the usual fee 
is.” 

“And we’ll buy it, won’t we, Fesler?” 

“We surely will,” Fesler’s voice was 
barely audible. 

“It is a not unusual request,” said 
Aloysio. “I remember when I interned 
at General — but that’s neither here nor 
there.” 

He bent down, opened a drawer and 
took out a pad. 

“Please feel no embarrassment, Mr. 
Montrose. This is a definite contribu- 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



113 



tion to science. You are really to be 
congratulated, sir.” 

“Oh, indeed,” Fesler laughed. 

TT IS soft laugh annoyed Montrose. 
-*• -*■ And the other one, Aloysio, talked 
much. Oh God, if that horse came in, 
he’d never, never have to ask anyone 
for money again! 

Dr. Aloysio wrote on the pad, tore 
off a sheet and wrote again on another 
sheet. Finally, he looked up. 

“If you will just step this way, Mr. 
Montrose.” Montrose reached the desk 
in two strides. “You see, I’ve just 
written a simple agreement, in dupli- 
cate. You sign them and keep one for 
yourself. Use my pen, sir.” 

Montrose bent over the desk. He 
heard no movement, but as he reached 
for the pen, he could hear Fesler breath- 
ing beside him. 

It seemed simple enough. 

“I, Frank Montrose, of my own free 
will, do hereby assign to the full posses- 
sion of Dr. Izak Aloysio, my physical 
body, same to be delivered to him upon 
my death. In consideration thereof, I 
have received one hundred dollars.” 

Montrose straightened. 

“Sounds like I’m selling you my body 
now," he muttered. 

Fesler started to speak, but Aloysio’s 
laugh cut him off. 

“Indeed you are, sir,” Aloysio nod- 
ded. “As soon as you sign and I pay 
you, the body’s mine. But I don’t 
think the law would allow me to tamper 
with it until you are completely through 
with it.” 

“I guess that’s right.” 

Montrose began to write. His hand 
trembled. He could see that horse 
again, ten lengths in the lead and Frank 
Montrose had a hundred dollars riding 
the nag at one hundred-to-one! 

He straightened. Both men sighed 
deeply. Dr. Fesler turned away and 



lumbered back to his chair in the 
corner. Dr. Aloysio’s eyes followed 
him and then Montrose was amazed to 
hear him snicker. Aloysio grinned 
widely for a moment, then his face 
smoothed and he turned to Montrose. 
“Now, sir,” he said, “for the money.” 
He took out a wallet and extracted 
ten new ten-dollar bills. He presented 
them to Montrose with a flourish. 

“A moderate price, Mr. Montrose. 
I fear I am the gainer by it.” 

Montrose stared at the money in his 
hand. Feverish anticipation had dulled 
his capacity for realising Now, the 
money was his, but he scarcely felt it. 
He lifted his head. 

“I — I — thanks. I guess I’ll be going 
. . .if there’s nothing else?” 

“No sir. Not a thing.” 

Much later, as Montrose made his 
night long hike to the track, he won- 
dered vaguely why they hadn’t attempt- 
ed to get more information. They 
didn’t know who he was, where he lived, 
nothing. What guarantee had they 
that they could collect when — when the 
time came? 

“ f T'URN off that light!” growled Dr. 
-*■ Fesler. 

Dr. Aloysio grinned. 

“You were always a fool, brother! 
Not the least bit of imagination! Why 
pick a body — when bodies must have 
darkness — ” 

“Turn off that light!” bellowed Fes- 
ler. 

“All right , all right!” The study 
was in darkness. “As I was saying,” 
continued Aloysio’s smooth voice, “I 
am an artist. I was Dr. Aloysio, per- 
fect and complete. Not something that 
couldn’t stand light!” 

He stared at Dr. Fesler. 

“Even now,” he said, “there is still 
something shapeless about you.” 
“That’s because Fm leaving. Fm 



114 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



sick oj your babble!” 

Aloysio’s laugh was not pleasant to 
hear. 

“You’re angry. You’re beginning to 
see the possibilities oj our wager and 
you know that I’m going to win. Yes, 
I’m going to win ” 

He sat quiet in the dark. 

'C'RANK Montrose turned from the 
-*• rail by the finish line and started 
toward the tunnel that led to the mutuel 
windows. This time, there was no 
thronging crowd of winners surging 
down the tunnel. Very few people pick 
a hundred-to-one shot. As he walked 
along, he realized he had known all 
along that the horse would win. 

Why? 

He’d made so many wrong guesses 
the past year. But this had been no 
guessl This time he had been certain. 

The mutuel clerk relaxed his habitual 
impassivity as he counted out ten 
thousand dollars. 

“You’re the top winner today, pal,” 
he said. 

“Did I have the only ticket on the 
nag?” asked Montrose. 

“Well, I had one!” laughed a voice 
behind him. 

Montrose took the money from the 
clerk and turned around. He hadn’t 
seen much of her type lately. Tall — 
healthy — beautiful in a sharp, clean 
way. Grey eyes met his in a level, 
direct stare. He found himself meeting 
her smile. 

“We’re smart,” he chuckled. 

“Weren’t we!” 

The clerk gave her two hundred 
dollars. Montrose stood, watching her 
frank delight as she scooped the money 
into her purse. 

He laughed aloud. 

The girl gave him a questioning 
glance. 

“I’m standing here with ten thousand 



dollars,” he explained, “and I haven’t 
a cigarette to my name!” 

“Here, have one of mine! I’m not 
as rich as you, but I do have cigar- 
ettes!” 

They moved aside to make room for 
the bettors on the last race. Montrose 
felt through his pockets. He didn’t 
even have a match! 

“That was my last hundred,” he con- 
fessed. “I didn’t have cigarette money. 
A gateman pal of mine let me in the 
track.” 

There was nothing rude in the way 
she looked at him. His grey eyes 
looked briefly at his clothes, then long 
and searchingly at his face. 

“You were very brave — or very des- 
perate.” Her voice was puzzled. 

“Just desperate,” he grinned. 

She was nice to look at. The powder 
blue suit fitted her trim figure perfectly. 
Her brown hair, with a natural wave, 
curved softly about her face. Mont- 
rose smiled to himself. Why not push 
his luck a little farther? 

“Look,” he said, “why don’t you help 
me celebrate? Have dinner with me.” 

She frowned a little. 

“It’s unconventional, I know.” He 
was very suave. “But I’m playing a 
hunch again. We‘U have a good time. 
I feel it!” 

“We — ell — your hunches seem good 
ones, Mr. . . ?” 

“Montrose. Frank Montrose.” 

“I’m Marcia Powers.” 

Marcia Powers held out her hand. 
Her clasp was firm and warm. 

Much later, they sat in a quiet little 
place that Montrose had known long 
before. So long, that the headwaiter 
had forgotten him, but, on the strength 
of Marcia’s looks and Montrose’s new 
suit he remembered. They drank a 
long drink and talked quietly. 



A 



FTER a while, Marcia sat silent, 
staring at the table-cloth. 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



115 



“I’m rich,” smiled Montrose. “I’ll 
offer two pennies for your thoughts.” 

She raised her head slowly. 

“This has been a curious day. The 
first time I ever went to a horse race 
and — the first time I ever went out with 
a stranger ” 

“If I’m still a stranger, then it isn’t 
my lucky day after all!” 

“Frank,” Marcia’s voice was serious. 
“May I ask you a question?” 

“Go ahead.” 

“What have you done with that ten 
thousand dollars?” 

Montrose was amazed to find that he 
didn’t consider the question imperti- 
nent. 

“I left about eight thousand in the 
safe at my hotel. I bought some 
clothes, spent a little tonight. I’ve got 
about fifteen hundred on me.” 

Her eyes widened. 

“Do you honestly expect to spend 
fifteen hundred dollars tonight?” 

Montrose looked off toward the 
orchestra. He had forgotten his plans 
for this evening. Certainly he had 
planned to get this girl home early. 
Then over to Callahan’s and get that 
bastard Rann in a crap game. Yes, 
he’d promised himself a lot of things 
for that night — and he’d done just a 
few of them. 

“I don’t know,” he said at last. “I 
always carried — carry, a lot of money 
on me.” 

Marcia reached across the table and 
covered his hand with hers. Surprised, 
he turned to face her. 

“You’ve been awfully broke, haven’t 
you?” As he started to protest, she 
shook her head. “No, Frank. You 
looked awfully seedy at the track. I 
don’t know, really, why I went out with 
you. Somehow, I liked you. I still 
do. Very much.” 

He could not cope with her honesty. 
He couldn’t tell this girl what he 



wanted to do. Or did he still want to 
do those things? Looking down at 
her hand, feeling her fingers over his, 
Montrose decided that he did not. 

“Frank,” Marcia went on, “I don’t 
live in this city. I’m a small-town girl 
from upstate. I’m such a hick, I’ve 
never seen a horse-race before today. 
I made that bet by sticking a hairpin 
through the program.” 

“That’s the best system,” he mur- 
mured. 

She smiled briefly, then her face was 
serious again. 

“But I’m very happy where I live, 
Frank. Why don’t you take your 
money and come up there? You would 
be happy, I think. You could do 
things.” 

And why not? Who was Jack Rann 
— the guy who’d stack a deck against 
his own brother? Who was Callahan — 
whose charity was a single drink of 
rotgut? Last night, Montrose had 
walked along the bar, knowing the final 
humiliation of being snubbed by pals 
fearing a touch. Who, indeed, was 
Frank Montrose — who had to sell his 
body for a hundred dollars! 

Montrose took Marcia’s hand in both 
of his. 

“Lead the way, my dear,” he said. 



T'Xif. ALOYSIO and Dr. Fester were 
not sitting in the office this time. 
In fact, they were not sitting at all. 
And Dr. Fessler had a smirk on his 
round face. 

“If we had done it my way," he 
chuckled, “he would never have met 
the girl. It’s not working out according 
to plan, is it?’’ 

Dr. Aloysio laughed aloud. 

“My pretty brother,’’ he sneered. 
“My pretty, foolish brotherl I told 
you that you were no artist — that you 
lacked imagination!" He rubbed his 
hands together. “Can’t you see it will 



116 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



be better this way? Can’t you imagine 
that we will have more sport this way?” 
Dr. Fesler scowled. 

“All right, all right. But I still think 
the old ways are best.” 

Dr. Aloysio shook his head pity- 
ingly. 

“No imagination. No imagination.” 
A/T ONTROSE parked his coupe at 
the curb in front of the church. 
The car was like Montrose himself, 
neat, trim, conservative. He switched 
off the motor and looked at Marcia, 
sitting beside him. 

Montrose laughed softly. 

“You don’t seem nervous,” Marcia 
smiled. 

“Too much has happened,” he 
replied. “The year has gone by too 
darned fast.” 

“It has been a good year, hasn’t it, 
darling!” 

“A good year? Hmmn. Sole owner 
of a nice little construction outfit. 
Frank Montrose, Builder! Twenty 
thousand in the bank! And...” 
“And?” 

“It looks very much as though I’m 
being dragged to the preacher to see 
about getting married!” 

“Do you like the idea very much?” 
“When it’s the loveliest girl this side 
of Paradise! This side? Say, I’ll in- 
clude Paradise!” 

“Frank! That’s sacrilege. And in 
front of a church too!” 

“In three weeks I’ll say it inside of 
a church!” 

He lifted her chin and looked at her. 
God, Montrose thought, I’m lucky! 
This girl — this wonderful girl — what 
hasn’t she done for me! 

“I think we’d better go in,” Marcia 
said at last. “Our appointment’s for 
ten.” 

He nodded and let go her chin. 
Montrose reached for the door handle, 
“Frank!” 



then — his hand dropped back. 

He turned toward Marcia. 

“What — what is it?” he stammered. 

“You had the queerest look... of 
strain ... as though you were lifting 
something!” 

Montrose forced a grin. 

“I suppose I’m a little embarrassed, 
darling. I haven’t been inside a church 
for years.” 

“Is that it! Why, you’ll love Dr. 
Eddison. He’s a real person — -there’s 
nothing stuffy about him at all!” 

Marcia opened her door. This time, 
Montrose forced himself to get out and 
started around to her side of the car. 
What the devil was wrong with him? 
His feet dragged, his whole body 
seemed not to co-ordinate. 

Montrose lifted a hand to help Mar- 
cia from the car, missed her elbow and 
almost fell. 

“Frank!” 

He frowned. 

Marcia made a joke of it. 

“You’re not supposed to lose your 
gallantry until after we’re married,” 
she chided. 

Montrose tried to grin. 

“I — I tried to help you,” he defended 
himself. “I think I slipped. Or you 
were too fast for me.” 

Marcia was too fast for him going 
across the sidewalk. He could barely 
force one foot in front of the other. 
Suddenly, Frank Montrose was scared. 
At the edge of the church’s lawn he 
could move no further. 

He was paralyzed! 

TV/T ARCIA looked back over her 
shoulder. At sight of his strain- 
ing, sweating face, she rushed back to 
to him. 

“Darling! Are you ill?” 

What could he say to her? He tried 
to turn away from her, back out of her 
reach. 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



117 



He could turn! 

As soon as Montrose tried to move 
away from the church his feet moved. 
He took another step. Toward the car. 
The paralysis left him. 

Marcia hurried after him, grabbed 
his arm. 

“Frank, darling! Say something!” 

What could he say? What kind of 
paralysis was this? Why could he 
move in one direction only? Mont- 
rose tried to think very fast. 

“I — I don’t feel so hot, honey.” 
Sweat poured down his face. “Suppose 
it’s nervous indigestion — probably been 
working too hard.” 

“You do look ill, Frank. I’m fright- 
ened! I’m taking you to a doctor, 
right now!” 

Oh, no! No doctors! Something 
was stirring, far back of Montrose’s 
consciousness. He could not define it 
— he didn’t full realize it — but it made 
him feel strangely. .. .unclean. He 
had to be alone. Alone. 

“Look,” he croaked. “Just take me 
home. A couple of hours rest and I’ll 
be okay. I’ve had this before and I 
know just what to do.” 

“Well, all right.” But Marcia still 
looked uncertain. “You are looking a 
little better, thank goodness. I never 
saw anyone look lie — ”. 

“Never mind,” Montrose said hastily. 
“Just take me home and let me sleep. 
We can visit Dr. Eddison tomorrow.” 

As they drove away, Montrose lay 
back in the seat and closed his 
eyes. His body felt completely relaxed. 
He wriggled his toes, surreptitiously 
flexed his arms. Movement was free 
and unrestrained! 

But crawling along the back of his 
mind, there was something. .. .Some 
thought that would explain all this. 
And the explanation would not be 
pleasant. 

Marcia took him to his apartment, 



made him lie down on the couch and 
covered him with a blanket. 

“When you wake up, call me,” she 
ordered, “I’ll fix your lunch. And 
your dinner, too.” 

She smoothed back his hair and 
smiled down at him. 

“You’ll make a wonderful wife,” he 
grinned. 

“You go to sleep — or you won’t make 
such a much of a husband! Fainting 
on the public streets!” 

“Did not faint!” 

He grinned and closed his eyes. Her 
lips brushed his and she was gone. 
Montrose did not see the worried look 
she gave him just before closing the 
door. 

Montrose waited for a while. Then 
he arose, went to the kitchen for a 
bottle and glass and came back to the 
couch. Carefully, methodically, he 
poured and drank three drinks. 

The rye failed to warm him. It did 
not relax his mind, allowing all his 
thoughts to form. Montrose poured a 
fifth drink. He raised it to his lips, 
then stopped. It came to him, then, 
that this was the way he used to meet 
problems. Drink them out of existence. 
That had stopped with the coming of 
Marcia. 

But you couldn’t tell Marcia that you 
had a one-way paralysis. Why not? 
Well, you just couldn’t! 

1V/T ONTROSE stood up. He stretch- 
ed slowly, raising himself on tip- 
toe. His body felt fine. Clenching his 
fists at his sides, he jogged in place for 
several minutes. Swinging his arms 
violently, he performed several spec- 
tacular bending exercises. 

“I’m all right,” Montrose gloated. 
“I’m thirty-four and I’ll bet I could run 
a hundred in ten flat. In fact, I’ll go 
over to the gym and prove it! 

He was a little tight, of course. But 



118 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



as he walked over to the gym, his stride 
was long and even and his body was 
erect. 

Montrose looked at his nude body 
before putting on a gym suit. Not a 
blemish. Stomach flat, shoulders broad. 
A damn’ good body! 

“Hi, Frank! What is this, an Adonis 
act?” 

Dr. Sam Halsey, his chunky body in 
gym trunks, stood at the end of the row 
of lockers, grinning widely at him. 
Montrose blushed, then laughed. 

“Hello, Sami I’m developing a new 
fixation for you to play around with. 
I’ve fallen in love with my big toe!” 

“Listen, bud,” grinned Halsey, “you 
wouldn’t expect a big-shot alienist like 
me to fool with that, would you?” 

“All right, big shot, just how would 
you cure it?” 

“Simple,” Halsey said with mock 
gravity. “Just amputate the toe!” 

The both laughed heartily. 

“Say, Frank, how about a few fast 
rounds? I haven’t had the gloves on 
for a month.” 

“Swell,” nodded Montrose. “Check 
’em out, will you, while I get a suit 
on?” 

Montrose slid easily between the 
ropes and went to one corner of the 
ring. The padded canvas felt light and 
springy beneath his feet. He looked 
warily over at Halsey, now going into 
his customary crouch. As Montrose 
edged out into the ring, he remembered 
the drinks. Have to keep Halsey away 
from the body, today. 

“Okay?” called Halsey. 

“You may fire when ready, Gridley.” 

Halsey hunched his shoulders and 
charged. It was his usual attack. 
Montrose, taller and with a decided 
edge in reach, usually side-stepped that 
first rush and did some deadly work 
with a left jab. 

Not today, however. 



Montrose extended his hand for the 
jab. That is, he tried to extend it. 
His left, and then his right, came up 
and covered his face — like a child shut- 
ting his gaze off from some feared thing. 
Nor did Montrose side-step. Instead, 
he jumped wildly backward, bounced 
against the ropes, then turned his back 
to Halsey and ran away from him. 

Halsey stopped. 

“Hey!” he grunted. “What goes?” 

Montrose crashed into the ropes at 
the opposite side of the ring. 

“Don’t hit me!” he yelled. “You 
mustn’t hurt me!” 

Halsey dropped his hands. 

“Huh! What did you say?” 

Montrose dropped his hands. He 
stared at Halsey, eyes glassy with fear. 
Halsey frowned at that fixed stare. 
Then, Montrose shook his head. Intel- 
ligent fear replaced the hysteria in his 
eyes. 

“Wha — what did I say?” he stam- 
mered. 

Halsey told him. 

Montrose looked down at his gloved 
hands. 

t T ALSEY went over to him. He laid 
-*• a glove on Montrose’s shoulder, 
noticing the involuntary wince as he 
raised the glove. 

“Tell me, Frank.” It was the 
psychiatrist speaking now. “What’s 
wrong?” 

Montrose did not lift his head. 

“I — oh hell, Sam! I might as well 
tell the truth! I was scared! I had to 
cover up — run away, so you couldn’t 
hit me!” 

“You were afraid of getting hurt?” 

“That’s it!” Montrose raised his 
head and looked beseechingly at the 
other. “You know I’m not a coward, 
Sam!” 

“Sure I do,” soothed Halsey. “Now, 
you and I are getting dressed and then 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



119 



we’ll go over to my office. Something’s 
bothering you, fellow, and I’ll find out 
what it is!” 

They had quite a talk. Halsey 
opened a bottle of very good Scotch, 
let Montrose have all he wanted. In 
half an hour, Montrose was telling the 
story of his life. When he had finished, 
Halsey fiddled with his key chain for 
a while, then grinned at Montrose. 

“I envy you,” he said. “You’ve been 
places and done things.” 

“I’m a lot happier right here in 
Pleasanton!” 

“With a girl like Marcia! You 
should be, Frank!” 

Halsey cleared his throat. 

“You see, Frank, Marcia’s really the 
crux of the matter. Tell me, does she 
know about this deal you made with 
the hospital?” 

“God, no! As a matter of fact, I’d 
forgotten it myself — until today. ...” 

Halsey nodded. 

“I see. Well, fellow, you haven’t 
forgotten about it! At least, your sub- 
conscious has made quite a play with 
that fact.” 

“What’s that got to do with Marcia?” 
frowned Montrose. 

“A guilt sense. Subconsciously, you 
believe that your body doesn’t belong 
to you any more. You can’t marry 
Marcia with a body that doesn’t belong 
to you. It’s cheating yourself and 
her!” 

Montrose fiddled with his empty 
glass. 

“That sounds pretty far-fetched to 
me, Sam,” he muttered. “I don’t quite 
get it.” 

“Look.” Halsey’s voice was patient. 
“You’re a high strung, imaginative fel- 
low. You’re deeply in love with Mar- 
cia. You feel that she has re-made 
your life — which she has. And because 
of this — this sale of your body — you 
don’t feel worthy of her. That 



rankles!” 

“And that’s why I — I couldn’t go 
in the church?” 

“Sure.” 

‘Then what do I do?” 

Halsey leaned back in his chair, grin- 
ning widely. 

“I wish I could cure all my patients 
as easily.” He looked at his watch. 
“Let’s see, it’s noon. You get the one 
o’clock plane to the city. Go over to 
the hospital and buy back that damn’ 
bill of sale. Tear it up — come back 
here — and I’ll get tight at your wed- 
ding!” 

Montrose hesitated, then rose slowly 
from his chair. 

“Are you sure, Sam?” 

“Of course I am!” 

“We — ell ... it sounds good. But 
I’ve had the feeling as though this was 
something I didn’t know about — some- 
thing I, personally, couldn’t control . . .” 

rjE PAID the driver and stood for 
a moment, staring curiously at the 
small hospital. Actually, he was seeing 
it for the first time. Montrose walked 
slowly up the tiled walk. His hand 
slowed a little as he reached to push 
open the door. A vague uneasiness 
crept over him. 

A brisk, middle-aged woman in a 
severe suit looked up from the switch- 
board as Montrose approached 
“Yes?” 

“I’d like to see Dr. Aloysio.” 

“Dr. Aloysio does not see anyone 
without an appointment.” 

“I think he will know me. Mr. 
Frank Montrose. I’m in the city for 
just an hour or two and it’s very 
urgent.” 

“All right,” the woman said doubt- 
fully. “I’ll call him.” 

Montrose turned away as she plugged 
in the call. The air was still heavy 
with the hospital smell. But, in the 



120 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



afternoon light, the place was certainly 
different. More cheerful. He tried to 
picture the haunting gloom of his pre- 
vious visit. 

“Dr. Aloysio does not know you, 
sir.” Montrose swung back to face her, 
“If you will state your business, he will 
give you an appointment.” 

Montrose frowned. Had the doctor 
forgotten? Of course not! No one, 
even J. P. Morgan, forgets giving out 
a hundred dollars. Then what went on 
here? 

“Ask Dr. Aloysio to think again,” 
Montrose snapped. “Just mention one 
hundred dollars to him!” 

The woman’s mouth tightened. 

“Dr. Aloysio has an excellent memo- 
ry,” she grated. “He said that he had 
never heard of you!” 

Montrose paled. The woman flinch- 
ed a little before the blazing fire in his 
eyes. Blind, hot anger surged over 
him. The day had been terrible 
enough without this last, unreasonable 
complication. 

“I think,” he grated, “that I can soon 
convince Dr. Aloysio that he does re- 
member me!” 

He strode down the corridor to the 
office door. The woman started to rise, 
then hastily plugged in a line. 

Montrose jerked open the door and 
stalked into the office of Dr. Aloysio. 

Dr. Aloysio was seated at the big 
desk. 

“Who are you, sir.” There was 
restrained anger in the clipped tones. 
“What do you want?” 

Montrose stood in front of the desk. 
He leaned forward, palms of both 
hands flat on the desk’s oaken top. 

“Take a good look, Dr. Aloysio,” 
he said as calmly as he could. “Don’t 
you remember me now?” 

The cold eyes behind the glasses 
gave no hint of recognition. 

“I do not, sir.” 



The doctor’s phone rang. The doc- 
tor ignored Montrose completely as he 
lifted it from its cradle. 

“Yes? Yes, he is here now. If I 
do not phone you in five minutes, 
summon two orderlies!” 

That was wrong. Even in his anger, 
Montrose remembered the other voice. 
The Dr. Aloysio had been pompous, 
wordy. Now.... 

The devil with that! A man’s voice 
is different at different times! And 
he wasn’t here to worry about this 
damned doctor’s vocal characteristics. 
Montrose took out his wallet and took 
out a hundred dollars. 

“Let’s cut out the foolery, Dr. Aloy- 
sio,” he snapped. “There is a hundred 
dollars. Take it and give me back the 
agreement ! ” 

Dr. Aloysio stared at the bill. 

“My dear sir,” he said, “I do not 
know you at all. Still less do I know 
what you are talking about!” 

He almost convinced Montrose. The 
hand that held the money wavered, 
drew back. Dr. Aloysio permitted 
himself a small nod. That jerked 
Montrose back to his taut fury. 



rTOLDING himself in as best he 
could, Montrose jerked out the 
story of the episode of a year ago. Dr. 
Aloysio's eyes widened, then narrowed 
in a stare of clinical appraisal. When 
Montrose had finished, he arose, walked 
around the desk and stood in front of 
Montrose. 



“Mr. Montrose,” he said, “you are 
obviously not drunk. From a cursory 
examination, I would think you sane — 
sane but, at present, emotionally un- 
balanced. You — 

“I did not come here for an examina- 
tion!” Montrose’s voice rose. “Damn 
it to hell — I’ve had a bad day — I’m 
not going to stand here and let you 
make it worse. I don’t know what 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



121 



your motive is and I don’t give a damn I 
But, damn you — tell me you didn’t 
write this! If you can!” 

Montrose tossed the money on the 
desk. It slipped to the floor, but neither 
man noticed it. His whole body was 
trembling as Montrose jerked out his 
wallet again. His fingers probed awk- 
wardly for the agreement., found it, 
creased and worn. He smoothed it out, 
held it in front of the doctor’s face. 

“Take a look at that! You wrote 
it and your fat friend, Fesler, watched 
you write it!” 

“Fesler? Dr. Fesler?” 

“Oh, God!” cried Montrose. “Won’t 
you stop it! He was here in the office 
with you.” 

Dr. Aloysio lost his impersonal calm 
for the first time. His voice was hesi- 
tant as he said, 

“My good friend Dr. Fesler died 
three years ago.” 

There was a loud knock at the door. 

“Go away, boys,” called Aloyiso, 
“it’s all right.” 

As retreating footsteps sounded down 
the hall, Aloysio held out his hand. 

“Let me see that agreement, please.” 

Montrose handed it over. Aloysio 
looked at it carefully. He sighed. Most 
of his professional aplomb came back. 

“I did not write that, Mr. Montrose. 
Wait,” as Montrose opened his mouth. 
He opened a drawer in the desk. “Here 
is one of my notebooks. Compare the 
handwritings.” 

Montrose did so. The room teetered 
crazily. His anger left him, to be re- 
placed with a crawling, snickering fear. 
The handwriting of the agreement was 
not that of Dr. Aloysio. From afar off, 
Montrose seemed to hear a wild, jeer- 
ing laugh. 

“Here, man!” cried Dr. Aloysio. 
“Sit down.” 

Montrose felt his arm taken, was 
steered to a chair. He felt himself fall 



into an easy chair, heard the doctor 
move back to his desk. Then the sharp 
fumes of smelling salts cleared his 
fogged brain. 

Dr. Aloysio put the glass stopper 
back on the bottle. 

“I’m sorry,” his voice was kind. “I 
didn’t understand. You seem to be the 
victim of some ghastly kind of joke.” 

But Montrose did not quit just yet. 
He forced himself to sit erect. 

“Dr. Fesler’s dead, eh!” he croaked. 
“How about the fellow at the switch- 
board?” 

Dr. Aloysio shook his head. 

“We had to discharge him about ten 
months ago for drunkenness. He was 
totally unreliable.” He took out cigar- 
ettes, gave one to Montrose and lit it. 
“You see, Mr. Montrose, at the time 
you mention, I myself was in bed with 
a severe attack of pleurisy. I can only 
conclude that someone, with the con- 
nivance of the man at the switchboard, 
played a joke on you.” 

Montrose stumbled to his feet. He 
stared at Dr. Aloysio for a long while, 
then began to laugh crazily. 

“Somebody bought my body!” he 
cried. “Where am I going to buy it 
back!” 

Dr. Aloysio took Montrose’s arm. 
Montrose shook it off and staggered 
toward the door. 

“Going to get drunk,” he mumbled. 
“Drink all this — all of it — right out of 
existence!” 

“You can’t do that!” cried the doc- 
tor. “Stay here until you calm 
down — 

But Frank Montrose had gone 
through the door. As he reeled down 
the corridor, Montrose saw nothing of 
his surroundings, but his crazed mind 
seemed to hear jeering laughter. 

‘‘"DUDDY,” said the cab driver. 

" “This hack aint a hotel room!” 



122 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



The nasal voice penetrated Mont- 
rose’s consciousness. He opened his 
eyes. Montrose shook his head, then 
stopped abruptly. Leaning over the 
back of the driver’s seat, the cabbie 
grinned without mirth. 

“You look like a wreck, buddy,” he 
said. 

“I feel it.” Montrose’s voice was 
thick. “Where are we?” 

“We’re at the airport. Remember?” 
“Airport! What airport? My God 
— am I still in the city?” 

The driver nodded. 

“Yep.” He glanced casually over 
Montrose’s wrinkled suit, soiled shirt; 
his eye paused at the unshaven chin. 
“I would say, pal, that you’ve seen a 
lot of our fair city.” 

Montrose turned his head. Looking 
outside, he was surprised to see it was 
broad daylight. 

“It’s morning,” he muttered. 

“Sure. Monday morning — 
“Monday!” 

“Sure.” 

Monday! Montrose had come down 
on Friday. What had happened — a 
three day drunk? Why? There was 
a whole covey of butterflies in his 
stomach, but he forced himself to think. 

And slowly the picture came back. 
Of the doctor and his terrible proof 
that he’d never written that purchase 
agreement. Of Montrose running from 
the hospital, helpless, alone — making 
for the nearest bar. Then, lots of 
bars. Drunk. The old way out, the 
way he’d always taken when things 
went wrong. 

“Go on to the airport,” Montrose 
cried. “Is there a plane soon?” 

“Yeah. You got any dough left, 
buddy?” 

Montrose opened his wallet. A ticket 
and a single ten were all he had left. 
The driver nodded at the money and 
started up his cab. Montrose saw 



Marcia’s picture in his billfold. Mar- 
cia! 

A three day drunk — while Marcia 
had probably gone crazy with worry. 
No — Frank Montrose was the crazy 
one. What had been this business of 
a body? A body sold to a doctor that 
didn’t exist. Montrose laughed. May- 
be the body didn’t exist, either. 

The noise of the plane’s motors was 
definitely not soothing. Montrose clasp- 
ed his aching head between his hands 
and tried to think. He couldn’t. It 
might have been the hangover — very 
likely it was, but he couldn’t quite 
focus his mind on any one matter. 

When he arrived in Pleasanton, the 
problem of Marcia forced everything 
else from his mind. For a while, horror 
went away, replaced by a purely normal 
worry as to how he was going to square 
things with her. 

He had just finished drying himself 
after an icy shower when his doorbell 
rang. It was Marcia. 

“Frank! Oh, Frank — what hap- 
pened?. Are you all right?” 

She held out her hands and for a 
brief moment he was safe in her em- 
brace, everything else forgotten. Then, 
she drew back. 

“Frank,” she said slowly. “I think 
you owe me an awful lot of explana- 
tion.” 

Marcia looked closely at him. Mont- 
rose hadn’t shaved yet and it would 
take several night’s sleep to clear up 
his eyes. Montrose jammed his fists 
tight into the pockets of his dressing 
gown. He tensed with the effort of 
meeting her eyes, but couldn’t quite 
make it. 

“I guess I went on a tear, honey,” 
he muttered. 

Marcia looked at his clothes, still 
heaped where he had thrown them. 
Then she walked slowly over to a win- 
dow and looked out. 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



123 



“I guess you did,” she said. “Why?” 
“I don’t know.” 

Marcia turned and faced him, but 
she did not move toward him. 

“Frank,” her voice was low but dear. 
“Do you really want to marry me?” 
“Good God!” Pain rang in his voice. 
“How can you doubt it!” 

“Frank.” her tone was controlled, 
“your behavior at the church was very 
strange. I believed you when you said 
you were ill, yet— I couldn’t help think- 
ing that you looked. . . .frightened.” 



]\/f ONTROSE’S mouth twisted. God 
forbid she should ever know just 



1V1 

how scared he’d been, 
her. . . . 



But not of 



“Then,” Marcia went on, “you called 
me and said you must fly down to the 
city. You were to be back for dinner. 
You were gone three days — without a 
word to me.” 

The sunlight streamed through the 
window, giving her loveliness a golden 
frame. Her beauty hurt him. What 
could he say? 

The truth? 

What was the truth? 

Like any man in his position, Mont- 
rose tried to postpone the inevitable. 

“Look, Marcia,” he said. “I honest- 
ly don’t know when I ate last. Would 
you wait while I finish dressing, then 
have some breakfast with me?” 

“I’ve already eaten.” 

“Well, watch me, then!” he exclaim- 
ed. “And then I’ll explain everything. 
Honest.” 

Montrose stepped toward her, his 
hands outstretched, pleading. Marcia 
shrugged. 

“All right, Frank,” she sighed. 

They walked silently along. Marcia 
stared straight ahead, her silence 
creating a distance between them. But 
Montrose didn’t mind. He had arrived 
at a decision. He would tell her every- 



thing, making no attempt to explain 
it, just give her the whole story. Then, 
it would be up to Marcia. At least, 
she would give him no balderdash, 
like Halsey’s pat theories. Yes, or no 
— and he would stand or fall at her 
word. 

At the next corner, just a few short 
steps from the restaurant, it happened. 
A commonplace sort of accident. An 
old lady, walking blindly against a 
traffic light, blundered in the path of an 
oncoming truck. 

“Frank!” Marcia screamed. 

Montrose tried to move. He could 
have reached the old woman in time, 
jerked her back to safety. A police- 
man blew his whistle, lumbered toward 
them. 

But Montrose could not move. 
Paralysis flowed over him. He panted 
with the struggle to move. 

The expression on Marcia’s face 
changed. Suddenly and terribly and 
completely. Then she started for the 
street. And now, there wasn’t enough 
time. The truck would have smashed 
them both, Marcia and the old woman. 

The lumbering policeman threw him- 
self forward, caught Marcia’s arm. At 
the last, incredible moment, the little 
old lady saw her danger. She dodged 
back to safety. 

The paralysis left Montrose. 

“Marcia! Marcia!” he screamed. 
He ran to her. “Darling, are you all 
right?” 

“Of course she’s all right,” boomed 
the cop. “I may have bruised her arm 
a bit. But she’s okay, aren’t you, 
Miss?” 

“Yes.” 

Marcia and the policeman stared at 
Montrose. 

“Thank you, officer,” she said at last. 
“You saved my life, you know.” 

“Now, now.” The big face reddened. 
He scowled at Montrose. “You’d better 



124 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



take a little more care of your girl, I’m 
thinking.” He turned away. “Now, 
where did the old lady go? That one 
needs a lecture 1” 

“Marcia,” stammered Montrose. “I 

—I...” 

He reached for her hand. Marcia 
drew back. 

“You just stood there,” she breathed. 
“Too frightened to move.” 

Her lip quivered. Then her head 
went high. 

“You’re a coward, Frank. I know 
it. I’d never forget it.” 

Her hands clasped together, came 
apart. Marcia held something out to- 
ward him. It was the ring he’d given 
her. 

Someone laughed. Montrose was 
suddenly conscious that others were 
watching him. He stared wildly around, 
caught sight of the cop. There was a 
look of approval on the officer’s face. 

“But...” 

Montrose lifted his hands. There 
was a clink as the ring fell at his feet. 
Montrose let his hands drop to his 
sides. 

As Marcia walked away, her shoul- 
ders slumped a little, then began to 
tremble. But there was nothing, now, 
that Montrose could do. 

“Move on,” growled the policemtn. 
“Pick up your ring and beat it!” 

FA R. FESLER, if he can still be 
called that, smirked at Dr. Aloysio. 

“Well, what’s so funny?” snapped 
the latter. 

“You look so ridiculous in that get- 
up,” wheezed Fester. “As an old lady, 
brother, you are definitely comic!” 

Dr. Aloysio waved a hand and was 
himself again. 

“Damn it!” he growled. “It was 
such a neat plan. To have him look 
on, helpless, while his beloved was 
smashed to bits by a truck!" 



“Ah, well,” grinned Fester. “Destiny 
fights on my side. There are limita- 
tions ” 

Aloysio laughed suddenly. 

“The plan unfolds, now, dear broth- 
er! Get ready to pay me!” 

OWAYING with the motion of the 
^ train, Montrose lurched up to the 
lounge car’s bar. 

‘A bottle of rye!” he ordered. 

The attendant handed over a bottle. 

“You gonna drink all that befo’ we 
get to Los Angeles, sah?” 

“I’m going to damn well try to,” 
growled Montrose. “Keep the soda 
and ice coming!” 

He sat alone in the far corner of the 
car. As the hours passed, the car 
gradually emptied itself of passengers. 
Montrose drank steadily, oblivious of 
his surroundings. He stared down at 
the jolting floor, drinking, smoking. . . . 
and staring. 

“Beg pahdon, sah, but even this train 
has to close up at two o’clock ! ” 

Montrose looked up at the white- 
jacketed attendant. 

“Is it that late!” he exclaimed. 

“Suah is. Don’t you think, sah, you 
ought to go to bed?” 

Montrose scowled. 

“Think I’m drunk?” 

The porter glanced at the nearly 
empty bottle, then looked long and hard 
at Montrose. His eyes rolled a little. 

“Why — I guess you aint, sah. 
Though you suah oughta be!” 

“Then get the hell out of here and let 
me alone.” 

Montrose’s mouth twisted in a sneer. 
No control, he muttered wearily. His 
body wouldn’t even respond to alcohol 
any more. His memory checked back 
over the past week. That terrible 
week of trying to see Marcia; of finally 
giving her up and then, after the 
Athletic Club had kicked him out and 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



125 



he had lost two cinch contracts, selling 
his business at a loss and leaving town. 

During that time he had tried to get 
tight. But he never had. He couldn’t 
do it now. 

Montrose leaned back in his chair. 
In careful order, he marshaled the main 
events of his life. An ordinary wastrel, 
at first, until that night at the hospital. 
Then, he’d found some very fine things 
• — only to lose them. Events — events 
he could not control — events had order- 
ed him about! 

He sat upright. Dazedly, he con- 
templated that fact. He held out his 
hands and blinked at them. They 
weren’t really his, for he couldn’t al- 
ways control them. Montrose looked 
down at his feet — the feet that had 
refused to enter the church. 

Then it was true — he had sold his 
body! But to whom? How could he 
he ever redeem it? Montrose picked 
up his glass and emptied it. Well, he 
thought, the old hands will still bring 
liquor to the old mouth and the old 
mouth will still swallow. He drank 
again. Perhaps he did get a little 
drunk, for he began to think of Marcia 
— even saw her face, shadowy and 
vague, float before his own. 

And then Montrose became angry. 
He had been cheated. The sale had 
been made for delivery after death! 
And they, whoever they were, had 
taken possession before — before the 
lease expired. Montrose laughed at 
his own thoughts, then grew serious! 
It was no joke — he had been cheated. 

A crafty gleam grew in his eyes. He 
looked down the car’s length to the 
vestibule door. That would do very 
nicely. He, Frank Montrose, would do 
a little cheating on his own account. 
He got to his feet, picked up the rye 
and drank from the bottle. Setting 
the bottle down, he started slowly down 
the car. 



He opened the door of the vestibule 
and stood on the steps. The wind 
whipped his face. Montrose stood 
there for a moment, balanced pre- 
cariously. His glance dropped to the 
ground, a grey blur under the train’s 
speed. It seemed to draw him. 

Yes, that was it. Nothing mattered 
now, since he had lost Marcia .... and 
himself. Clinging to the handrail with 
one hand, he swung himself around 
between the two cars. This would be 
ideal. His body would be mangled be- 
yond all recognition — there would be 
absolutely nothing left to collect. 

Laughing aloud, Montrose let go the 
rail. 

A hand caught his. For a moment, 
Montrose dangled, then the hand that 
gripped his pulled him back. Mont- 
rose banged against the car, his feet 
scraped over the steps. One more pull 
and he was crouched on his knees in 
the vestibule. He heard the outside 
door close, then a laugh grated against 
his consciousness. 

“Mr. Montrose! That was cheat- 
ing, sir!” 

Montrose looked up. Dr. Aloysio 
stood before him. Eyes sparkling be- 
hind the black-rimmed glasses, high 
forehead gleaming palely in the dark- 
ness. 

“You!” Montrose screamed. 

He staggered to his feet. 

“Of course. I must protect my in- 
terests. If you had — ah, succeeded, 
how could I have obtained my pro- 
perty?” 

Montrose staggered forward. The 
doctor’s figure wavered, blurred, then 
disappeared. 

Montrose fainted. 

npHE PORTER and the conductor 
accepted his explanation that he 
had fainted, although it was obvious 
both thought him lying. As Montrose 



126 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



lay sleepless in his berth, he heard the 
porter come and listen several times 
outside the curtains. 

But he did not care. He left the 
train at Los Angeles, smiling slightly 
at the porter’s sigh of relief at his going. 
But it was surface amusement only. 
Frank Montrose considered himself no 
longer of this world. His mind was 
fixed on death. For death, the proper 
kind of death, would break the bargain, 
make him a winner at last. 

He checked his bags at the station 
and set out on an aimless walk. He 
was not surprised to discover he had no 
hangover. As he walked, Montrose 
passed a small church. His footsteps 
walked on. Religion had always meant 
little to him and, since he didn’t quite 
believe in God, he couldn’t accept the 
Devil, either. 

Had he been more imaginative, he 
might have gone insane. 

All he did was to stop at an occa- 
sional bar and drink a little. Not that 
he wanted to get drunk ... even if he 
could have gotten drunk. Drinking 
was just something to do. 

It was at the third bar that the idea 
hit him. He grinned slowly as the idea 
unfolded in his mind. When the plan 
had perfected itself, he chuckled aloud. 
He lifted his glass in a silent toast to 
his success and drank deeply. For the 
first time in days, the rye tasted good 
to him. 

“Fill her up,” he said. 

The bartender did so. 

“Say,” Montrose said genially, “I’d 
like to ask you a question.” 

The bartender rubbed the bar with 
a dirty towel. 

“Shoot,” his voice was bored. 

Montrose leaned over the bar. 

“Well, he said, “I was just thinking. 
Suppose a guy is executed in this state. 
What happens to his body?” 

The bartender stared. 



“Jeez!” he exclaimed. “You’re mor- 
bid, pal!” 

Montrose shook his head. 

“Not at all,” he grinned. “I’m a 
crime writer. Just blew in here. I’m 
going to do some free-lance stuff.” 

“I dunno,” he said. “Guess the 
nearest of kin gets it. If they want it. 
Otherwise — yeah, I’m sure of it!” 
“What’s that?” Montrose found the 
barkeep’s mind a little hard to follow. 

“There’s a cemetery at the prison. 
I know that, ’cause I was up there once. 
As a visitor, of course.” 

“Sure,” nodded Montrose. 

“Fella I was visitin’ pointed it out 
to me. If you get executed and they 
aint no relatives, why they bury you 
right there in the prison grounds.” 
“Fine. Thanks a lot.” Montrose 
beamed. “Have one on me!” 

“Later, maybe.” The bartender 
moved off. “Gotta take care of those 
loudmouths at the other end, first.” 

T7 VEN the clamor of the omnipresent 
juke-box sounded pleasant to 
Montrose’s ears. He was at peace with 
the world. Carefully, he went over the 
plan in his mind. It was foolproof. 
There would be unpleasant aspects, of 
course. He could not help shuddering 
at the final scene. But it was all 
compensated for. Yes, it made every- 
thing even. 

“Hi, pal,” said a voice at his shoul- 
der. 

Montrose turned his head. A thin 
nondescript sat down beside him. 
“What’ll yuh have, pal?” 

The newcomer was at that stage of 
drunkenness when all the world was 
his friend. Montrose started to turn 
away, then looked back at the lush. It 

might as well be now, he thought 

“Why,” Montrose said, “I’d like 
another rye.” 

“Fine. George, two more ryes.” He 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



127 



leaned toward Montrose. “Tha’s not 
his real name. But I always call ’im 
that.” 

“Why not? It saves time.” 

“Zactly wha’ I say.” He nodded at 
Montrose. “Mighty happy to have 
drink with me. Been drinkin’ with 
some of the fines’ people’n Lossanglus. 
M’name’s Hayes. Jus’ call me Perry. 
Tha’s firs’ name.” 

“Glad to know you. I’m Frank 
Montrose.” 

They drank. 

“Always say Lassanglus fines’ place 
in world with fines’ people,” said Mr. 
Hayes. “Knew moment I saw you, you 
fines’ of ’em all!” 

Mr. Hayes nodded his head with 
great emphasis and almost fell off his 
stool. 

“Oh,” said Montrose, “I’m fine 
enough, I guess. I’m also pretty 
smart.” 

“So?” Hayes’ eyes grew round with 
wonder. “Me. I’m dumb.” 

“You look dam’ intelligent to me,” 
said Montrose. 

Hayes beamed. They had more rye. 
The bartender moved back to his “loud- 
mouths” at the other end. Montrose 
looked over the bar and saw a short 
knife, used for cutting lemons. He 
leaned over the bar, snatched up the 
knife and stuck it in his coat pocket. 

“Whaddye do tha’ for?” asked 
Hayes. 

“A bet,” grinned Montrose. “Pal 
of mine bet me ten bucks I couldn’t 
lift it. Say!” He faced the goggling 
Hayes. “You’re just the guy I need! 
A witness!” 

Hayes giggled. 

“Look,” said Montrose. “You saw 
me lift the knife. How about coming 
along and helping me collect the bet. 
Then you and I will really paint this 
town! What say?” 

“Sure. ’S a goodidea.” Hayes fished 



for more money. 

“Drinks are on me,” said Montrose. 

“Nossir!” Hayes became stubborn. 
“You’re my gues’. I’mbuyin’.” 

Montrose shrugged. It was low, 
somehow, to let Hayes pay, in light of 
what was going to happen to Hayes. 
But he didn’t dare argue with a drunk, 
a drunk’s reaction’s are too unpredict- 
able. 

Hayes paid and they left the bar, 
arm in arm. 

Montrose walked slowly, pretending 
to stagger a little, waiting until they 
came to an intersection. There was a 
traffic policeman in the middle of the 
street. A couple of men were just 
stepping off the curb on the other side 
of the street. Plenty of witnesses. . . . 

Montrose shrugged off Hayes’ arm 
and pulled the knife. 

“All right, sucker,” he said loudly. 
“Hand over that roll you were sporting 
in the saloon!” 

Hayes giggled. 

“Come on!” Montrose grabbed his 
shirt. “Gimme the dough or I’ll let you 
have it!” 

“Hey, leggo,” mumbled Hayes. 
“Don’ play so rough, pal!” 

Montrose shook him and raised the 
knife. 

“Leggo!” cried Hayes. He quailed 
to sobriety before the awful threat in 
Montrose’s eyes. “Help! ” he screamed 
once. 

TV/T ONTROSE sunk his knife in the 
other’s chest, turned and ran 
squarely into the arms of the police- 
man. 

“You’re under arrest!” bellowed the 
cop. “I saw you! Plain as day it was 
murder!” 

“Yeah!” Montrose dropped the 
knife. “I— I killed him.” 

He could not look at the small, 
crumpled body. 



128 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“But, officer! You don’t under- 
stand!” 

The two men from across the street 
stepped briskly up to the policeman. 
The officer saw two well-dressed men, 
one tall, the other short and portly. To 
his practised eye, they meant one thing 
— importance. 

Montrose saw in them the things he 
still called Dr. Aloysio and Dr. Fesler. 

“What do you mean?” rasped the 
policeman. 

“We saw it all,” said the tall man. 
“My friend, here, and I. This man 
was walking along, pleasantly and 
amiably, with the — other one. We left 
the same bar they did, just a minute 
or so after them.” 

The street began to rock under 
Montrose. The policeman scowled. 

“Well I — ”, he grumbled. 

The plump man spoke up. 

‘The dead man tried to quarrel with 
his friend in the bar. Just as they 
reached the corner here, he became 
angry again. He jerked out a knife 
and assaulted the gentleman you’re 
holding. We saw him pull the knife 
away, but the other chap seemed to 
slip and fall right on the knife.” 

“But I killed him!” screamed Mont- 
rose. “It was murder!” 

The tall man clucked. 

“Poor chap,” he murmured. “Shock. 
You’d be hysterical too, officer, if you’d 
just killed a friend.” 

The cop was still unconvinced. 

“Who the hell are you, anyway?” he 
growled. “How do I know this isn’t 
some kind of frame-up?” 

The two gentlemen presented cards. 
As the policeman read the names, his 
voice lost its growl and he became very 
deferential. 

“Oh!” It seemed he said their names, 
but oddly enough, Montrose couldn’t 
hear him. 

But Montrose didn’t care, anyway. 



There was one more chance. If he ran, 
now, the cop would shoot. Even if he 
weren’t killed, flight would be a sure 
sign of guilt. He stumbled forward. 

“Look out!” It was the one Mont- 
rose knew as Dr. Aloysio. “The poor 
chap is fainting!” 

And Montrose was fainting. The 
whole, seething scene spun around into 
a vast, sneering portrait of Dr. Aloysio. 
Then, Dr. Aloysio receded into the 
leering blackness. But not before Dr. 
Aloysio had leaned forward and whis- 
pered in Montrose’s ear, 

“Please, Mr. Montrose! Don’t you 
realize by now you can’t cheat me! 
Your body is mine, you know. ... ” 



IT OURS later Montrose stood calm- 
ly in the courtroom while the 
traffic officer mumbled his testimony 
and the other two gave their version 
of the tragedy. When it was his turn, 
Montrose spoke patiently, as though 
repeating a lesson. Word for word, 
he gave an account that tallied exactly 
with that of the two .... doctors. As 
he talked, his only sensation was one 
of vast pity for poor Perry Hayes. 

The judge called it justifiable homi- 
cide and dismissed the case. 

Montrose turned to go. Aloysio and 
Fesler walked on either side of him. 
At the sidewalk, Montrose turned. 

“Damn you!” he said, slowly, 
viciously. “Why don’t you collect now. 
I’m tired of it! I don’t know who you 
are — or what happened to me. But 
take your body. I’m sick of it!” 

Dr. Aloysio shook his head sadly. 

“Ah, Mr. Montrose,” he murmured. 
“The fault is yours. You don’t know 
how to live — at, a leased body. You 
don’t know how to take advantage of 
it!” 

His words pounded against Mont- 
rose’s mind, even as the two seemed 
to fade in the bright sunlight 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



129 



r pHE BARTENDER sliced a lemon, 
slowly and methodically. The 
joint was as yet but slightly crowded 
and he wasn’t very busy. 

“Hi!” sounded a familiar voice. 
“Let go that lemon and shake hands 
with me!” 

Callahan looked up. 

“Monty!” he croaked. 

His face creased into a smile. 
“Monty!” he repeated. “ ‘Tis good 
to see ye, lad!” 

Callaghan looked Montrose over 
carefully . Then he reached below the 
bar and took out a dusty bottle of very 
old Baltimore rye. It was his seal of 
approval on what he saw. 

“Me boy,” he said, as he poured, “ye 
look very prosperous and I’m glad to 
see it.” 

“Prosperous?” Montrose’s eyes grew 
bleak. “Well, I’ve got lots of money 
and I can do lots of things, but I 
wouldn’t exactly say I’d prospered.” 
“Talkin’ in riddles, hey? Well, 
here’s to ye ! ” 

They drank. Callaghan cast a look 
up and down the bar, saw nothing that 
needed his attention, then leaned for- 
ward, elbows on the bar. 

“Last time I saw ye was over a year 
ago. Ye were on yer uppers, then.” 
Montrose laughed. 

“I started my comeback that very 
night. Got a tip from Jack Rann. 
which reminds me.” His voice was 
casual. “Is he here?” 

Callaghan scowled. 

“He is.” 

“That’s fine. I’ve been looking for 
him.” 

“Why?” 

Montrose waved his hand airily. 
“Well, to be frank with you, Cal, 
I’m going to kill Jack Rann.” 

“Somebody should do that.” The 
Irishman did a double take. “What 
did ye say, Monty?” he whispered. 



“I said I was going to kill Rann,” 
Montrose replied. 

Callaghan threw up his hands. 

“Ye’re drunk agin! Monty, why 
don’t you lay off the stuff! And don’t 
you start no ruckus in my place!” 

Montrose took out an initialed 
leather cigarette case. With steady 
fingers he chose a smoke, lit it and 
flicked the match away. After a deep 
drag, he smiled at Callaghan. 

‘Cal, old boy,” he drawled, “I am 
not drunk and you know it! And I 
won’t start anything. I’ll just shoot 
him, that’s all!” 

Callaghan’s face purpled. 

“Did ye ever hear of the electric 
chair, boy! Didn’t ye know they exe- 
cute people for murder?” 

“Not me.” Montrose spoke quite 
seriously. “I’ve already tried it and 
I can’t be caught. You’ll see.” 

Callaghan found himself believing 
the other. Unbelief could not stand up 
before the easy confidence of Montrose. 
The Irishman was afraid, terribly 
afraid. 

“Ye’re not crazy,” Callaghan stated. 

“No.” 

“Then what have ye done — sold yer 
soul to the devil?” 

Montrose shook his head. 

“No,” he said. “Not my soul, Cal. 

/"'ALLAGHAN watched him walk to 
where Jack Rann sat. Unfortun- 
ately, a customer summoned him, so 
Callaghan never did hear what was 
said. 

It wasn’t very much. 

Montrose stared confidently into 
Rann’s slate eyes, watched them widen 
with recognition. 

“ ’Lo, chum,” Rann said. “What 
are you doing back here?” 

“Just a little visit,” smiled Montrose. 
“Came to pay you your commission on 
a sale.” 



130 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Commission?” 

“Yes. Remember when you advised 
me to sell my body to a hospital?” 

Rann frowned, then he smiled what 
was, for him, a wide smile. 

“Did that really work?” he chuckled. 
He hesitated, taking in Montrose’s ap- 
pearance with a quick glance. Then 
he said, “Sit down and tell me about it. 
You know, I used to wonder just what 
put that idea in my mind?” 

“Really?” Montrose remained stand- 
ing. 

“Yeah. I didn’t know anything 
about it, chum. I was just tryin’ to 
get rid of you.” 

“It worked, Rann. I got the hundred. 
And a lot of other things. Things I 
didn’t bargain for. But you deserve 
your commission. Even on the other 
things.” 

Montrose took a gun from his pocket 
and pointed it at Jack Rann. 

“Hey!” 

Rann’s face turned a dirty gray. 

“I never liked you,” Montrose said 
calmly. That night I hated you. I 
still do. I wouldn’t bother with this 
if I thought I ran any risk.” 

“Put that gun away, pal. You’ll — 
you’ll burn!” 

“No. / won’t.” 

Rann began to beg in a high, hysteri- 
cal voice. He fell to the floor, and 
writhed like a worm among the litter of 
cigarette butts. Montrose watched with 
an almost clinical detachment. 

In a fragment of time that seemed 
endless, Montrose recapitulated the 
situation. He was going to kill Jack 
Rann, this groveling creature who had 
lost all dignity. He felt a sense of 
pleasure, deep inside himself. This was 
the way to use a leased body to ad- 
vantage. He could go about and de- 
stroy all worthless men — with impu- 
nity. Ano no man-made punishment 
would be his. This body was sacred 



to some higher power. 

From the corner of his eye, he caught 
movement. Callaghan had thrown a 
bottle of whiskey at him. Still with an 
amused detachment, Montrose marked 
the arc of the bottle. It looked like 
a true throw, yet it would not hit him, 
would not destroy his aim. As they 
had allowed him to kill Perry Hayes, 
so would they allow him to kill Jack 
Rann. And no reprisal. 

It was really fun. He chuckled a 
little as he pointed the gun down at 
Rann. That bottle, flying hard and 
true, would be swerved aside by . . . 
somehting. Or it would disappear in 
mid-flight. How these barflies would 
goggle! 



■LTE HELD the gun steady, and began 
A -*• to squeeze the trigger. The bottle 
reached the top of its flat parabola and 
began to drop toward his hand. He 
put a little more pressure on the trigger. 
The bottle came on. He squeezed hard 
on the trigger, a fraction of a second 
behind the impact of the bottle. 

It crashed into the gun, knocked his 
hand to one side. The roar and flash 
of the gun deafened and blinded him. 
The bullet buried itself in the floor. 

Montrose’s jaw went slack. He look- 
ed idiotically at the gun. 

“What does it mean?” he muttered 
to himself. “What does it mean?” 
Jack Rann leaped up, with desperate 
despair, and wrenched the gun from 
Montrose’s limp hand. He pointed it 
at Montrose. 

“You saw him;” he babbled. “Tried 
to kill me! I’m protecting myself. 
You’re witnesses! He flung a wild 
glance at the bartender. “I’m justified 
in killing him! You’ll testify, Cal!” 
“But you can’t kill me,” Montrose 
said, as if to a child. “This body can’t 
be hurt. It’s being saved for — some- 
thing. I’m not afraid, you see.” 



CONTRACT FOR A BODY 



131 



It struck him with a blinding impact. 
I’m not afraid! 

What did it mean? He’d always 
been afraid before. A fear that came 
from outside himself had sent him flee- 
ing from the gloved fists of Dr. Sam 
Halsey, had held him paralyzed when 
death plunged at Marcia. But now 
that fear was gone. 

He thought: Why, I’m about to be 
killed. I can be killed. 

He cried aloud, in wild exultation: 
“I can be killed! Oh, thank God, I 
can be killed! I’m free, free! Kill me, 
Jack This is wonderful!” 

Jack Rann dropped his arm. He 
looked at Montrose with a kind of 
puzzled fear. “You’re crazy, Mont- 
rose. I can’t shoot a crazy man.” 

‘Then I’ll kill myself!” Montrose 
cried. “Oh, God, but I’m happy!” 

He turned and ran out the door. 
Laughing insanely, he plunged into the 
street. 

Brakes screamed. Horns cried in 
torture. A yellow laundry truck lifted 
Montrose on a front fender, sent him 
flying through a short arc. 

T'XEAD men feel no pain. Through 
a fog of it, Montrose told himself 
this over and over and over. Dead 
men feel no pain. 

He hadn’t died, then. Presently he 
opened his eyes. He saw brown hair 
curling gently against a remembered 
face. Grey eyes anxiously fixed on his. 
Powder blue sheathed a lovely figure. 

“Marcia,” he said softly, without 
wonder, stating a simple but beautiful 
truth. “Marcia.” 

“You’re going to live, Frank. You’re 
going to live, darling. That’s the im- 
portant thing.” 

“Is it?” he asked dully. “They 
cheated me again. They took away the 
fear, only to fool me. The evil, evil 
scum!” 



“You mustn’t talk, dear,” she 
soothed. “You’ll be out of your head 
for a while, but you’re going to live.” 
He looked at her. He thought: 
Pain. I hurt. I am hurt. If this body 
has been hurt . . . 

“What happened to me?” he asked. 
“My right foot hurts like hell.” 

A nurse came in. “You mustn’t ex- 
cite yourself,” she said pleasantly. 
“You must gain strength.” 

“What’s the matter with my foot?” 
he said tensely. “It — feels strange. 
What happened to it?’’ 

“Shh!” the nurse said. “Shhh!” 
He tried to sit up, but fell back 
gasping with pain. “I insist!” he cried. 
“Tell me!” 

“Shh!” 

Marcia set her jaw. “I’m going to 
tell him. I don’t care what the doctor 
said. Your foot was — ” 

“Miss Powers!” the nurse said sharp- 
ly- 

“Your foot,” Marcia said grimly, 
“had to be amputated, Frank, just 
above the ankle.” 

“I must ask you to leave,” the nurse 
began. 

“I will not! There’s nearly a quart 
of my blood in that body. I’m going 
to stay!” 

Frank Montrose was suddenly at 
peace. A beatific smile overspread his 
face, and the two women looked won- 
deringly at him. 

“I’ve only got one foot,” he said 
happily. “Nobody — no THING— 
would want me now.” 

“I would,” Marcia said stoutly. “I 
would, Frank.” 

She straightened it out for him, later. 
The news report she had seen. Man 
rushes to save alley cat in traffic, not 
expected to live. She had caught a 
plane, had given two transfusions over 
a period of six days. He had almost 
died. 



132 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



“Alley cat?” he repeated. “I 
didn’t — ” 

“And it escaped,” Marcia burbled. 
“This roving reporter saw it wriggle 
through the traffic and streak into a 
barroom.” 

“I’ve only got one foot,” he mur- 
mured. “I have never been so happy.” 
Marcia said, “And I accused you 
once of cowardice. You must have 
been just — sick.” 

“I can go in that church now,” Mont- 
rose said. “Marcia will you — ?” 

“If I have to carry you,” she said. 

“HpHEN I pronounce you man and 
wife,” the justice of the peace 
said. “Two dollars.” 

Montrose kissed his bride, and she 
pulled back to look at him with a frown. 
She said nothing until she had wheeled 
him out into the lazy afternoon. 
“What’s come over you, Frank?” 

“I was wondering,” he said, still 
abstracted. “If there are — uh, entities 
waiting outside the realm of ordinary 
existence, ready to pounce, then . . .” 
“What are you talking about?” she 
demanded. “We’re married, darling!” 
“They picked me up,” he went on. 
“There was no rhyme or reason, that I 
can see. Then they flung me aside, 
without warning. What purpose could 
they have had? What purpose?” 
“Don’t talk like that! You’re giving 
me the shivers!” 

He grinned up at her. “I’ll never 
mention it again. If you’ll wheel me 
home, my rickshaw coolie. I’ll show 
you what purpose really is. Chop-chop, 
now!” 

“Yes, massa,” she said. 

They’re out there, he thought as she 
wheeled him home. They’re out there, 
waiting. Who will be next? Who 
will — ? 

It seemed to him that an unseen 
hand had touched the breast pocket of 



his coat. He felt. He took out a creased 
paper. He opened it, remembering. 

“I, Frank Montrose, of my own free 
will, do hereby assign to the full posses- 
sion — ” 

It was signed by himself. This was 
the “doctor’s” copy of the agreement. 
Why had it been returned? He took 
the other from his wallet, and tore both 
copies to shreds. 

“Is that our marriage license?” Mar- 
cia asked, chuckling. 

“Just an old memorandum,” he said. 

And it seemed to him that he heard 
soft laughter from — somewhere. From 
— some thing. It wasn’t jeering or 
ominous. It was merely laughter. 

A weight seemed lifted from him. 
“Hurry!” he said to Marcia, and 
laughed with her. 

T HE two o) them sat in impenetrable 
darkness. The darkness pulsated 
with their laughter. 

“I believe l win our wager?” one 
asked suavely. 

“Yes,” the other conceded. “I must 
admit, brother, that bodies, in their 
limited jashion, are quite amusing. 
However, I am convinced that the old 
ways are best. This was a pleasant ex- 
periment, but I shouldn’t like it as a 
regular routine.” 

“I am enamored of it, myself,” said 
the first. “The unsuspected histrionic 
talents 1 discovered in myself are fas- 
cinating. I am going to indulge in a 
variation of this experiment.” 

“On whom, brother?” 

“Ah, that is a question. Let me see, 
shall it be a man or a woman? 
Which? 

“Why not both?” 

“A brilliant thought! Brother, per- 
haps you have the makings of an 
imagination, after all. W ould you care 
to join me?” 

“To be sure, brother.” 



THE MAGYAR KILLER 

★ By SANDY MILLER ★ 



W E AMERICANS take an awful ribbing 
from foreigners about the play that 
newspapers give to murders and mys- 
teries. Most Europeans have the idea that America 
is one vast Chicago — a battlegrq^nd of gangsters 
and murderers and killers. They have the im- 
pression that it is impossible to walk the streets 
of this country without being armed with a 
machine-gun. But Europe has had more than 
its share of the very thing it deplores. Some of 
the most famous and inexplicable crimes have 
been committed on the Continent. In particular, 
Hungary and its capitol city, Budapest, offer 
some of the most outre events the world has 
ever seen. 

Perhaps this is only proper — Hungary, and the 
Transylvania mountain district has given us most 
of our stories and legends about werewolves and 
vampires. One of the most famous of the mys- 
teries is that of the Cenchas Foundry. 

In nineteen twenty-three, there operated in 
Budapest, a rising young industrial establishment, 
the Cenchas Foundry. It was a fairly large firm 
for the city of that time for it had about forty 
employees, one of whom we are particularly con- 
cerned with. 

Peter Dushanyi was the foreman in charge of 
the brand-new gas furnace that the company used 
for melting copper and brass. He had been work- 
ing for the firm for a relatively short time but 
had shown such interest and been so capable that 
he had been promoted to his job very rapidly. 
He adored the furnace — was almost in love with 
it and he tended it with the concern of a man 
looking after his first-born. Little was known 
of Dushanyi except that his other mad passion 
was a love for reading — particularly stories of 
the outre and weird type. His room was laden 
with such books. 

The reason he became known and almost a 
cause celebre, was because of a mysterious mur- 
der. One Monday morning, September of that 
year, the body of Domana Karic, another foundry 
worker, was found in front of the copper-melting 
furnace. The man’s head had been bashed in 
with a heavy bar of some kind. Routine police 
action was immediately taken. Karic had no 
known enemies, had been a friend of everyone, 
and his death was completely inexplicable. The 
police examined everyone in the plant carefully 
but nothing was found out. Only two peculiari- 
ties were noted about the corpse. It was lying 
on its face in front of the furnace with its hands 
stretched out as if in worship of a god, and in 
addition, there was a slight nick or cut in its 




throat. To the superstitious Hungarian workmen, 
that meant vampirism, but of course, the police 
laughed at the thought. Never-the-less, in spite 
of all that could be done, his murderer was not 
located and the case was closed. There the mat- 
ter rested and it would probably never have come 
to anyone’s attention had not another incident 
in the odd chain of events, occurred. 

The foreman, Peter Dushanyi, was found a few 
months later, dead in his room, by his own hand. 
And he left a note which was a confession of the 
murder of Domana Karic. This naturally was a 
surprise to everyone, but more surprising was the 
explanation, Dushanyi gave for his deed. 

He wrote: “I, Peter Dushanyi, Keeper of the 
Sacred Flame (evidently, the furnace) am the em- 
bodiment of the sacred vampire of Tothe, and 
because my god requested sacrifice, I have com- 
plied with his command. Domana Karic, was in 
himself, nothing, but I chose him because he was 
at the furnace while I was there. I killed him and 
I am glad to have done it; the furnace needed a 
soul to keep it content. I provided it. I am 
taking my own life because my purpose on Earth 
has been fulfilled.” 

That was all there was to the note. When 
the story circulated around the plant, workers 
refused to approach the furnace believing that 
the soul of Karic inhabited it. In fact, the fac- 
tory closed shortly thereafter due to the im- 
possibility of getting sufficient help. The major 
oddity about the whole affair is that the police 
never mentioned, at least for public consumption, 
that Dushanyi had a slight cut in his throat too. 

* * * 



133 




• THOMAS ANDREWS • 



T homas Andrews, Irish chemist and 

physicist, was born on December 19, 1813 
at Belfast, Ireland, where his father was a 
linen merchant. He studied medicine and the phys- 
ical sciences at the University of Glasgow, Edin- 
burgh, Dublin and Paris. In 1845, after practicing 
as a physician for several years in his native city, 
he was appointed vice-president of the newly 
established Queen’s college, Belfast, and professor 
of chemistry, offices which he held till 1879, when 
failing health compelled his retirement. He then 
resigned and devoted the rest of his life to research. 
He died on Nov. 26, 1885. 

The work on which his reputation mainly rests, 
and which best displayed his skill and resourceful- 
ness in experiment, was concerned with the lique- 
faction of gases. He carried out a very complete 
enquiry into the laws expressing the relations of 
pressure, temperature and volume in carbonic 
dioxide, in particular establishing the conceptions 
of critical temperature and critical pressure, and 
showing that the gas passes from the gaseous to 
the liquid state without any breach of continuity. 

When investigating the properties of certain 
gases, in 1861, he reached the important conclusion 
that for each one of them there is a definite degree 
of temperature, or absence of it, above which no 
amount of pressure will cause it to change into a 
liquid. Below that figure a gas will sometimes 
partially liquefy, but precisely at it — called the 
critical point — it passes at once into the liquid 
state. This point differs for each gas. Similarly 
it has since been found that for each of them 
there is also a definite pressure and temperature 
figure at which alone the liquid will become a 
solid. In consequence of this discovery, all the 
known gases have since been reduced to the liquid 
condition, and all but helium to that of a solid. 

Andrews also made a special study of ozone, and 
to him is due the most of what is known at the 
present time of the properties of that substance. 
Technically considered, it is an allotropic form of 
the elementary gas oxygen; that is, one of the 
states which the element can assume without loss 
of its elementary character, but which is accom- 
panied by marked differences in some of its phys- 
ical properties. A number of the elements possess 
this capacity, notably sulphur, phosphorus and 
carbon, and many chemists hold that allotropism 



can occur with any of them, given the proper con- 
ditions, inasmuch as it seems to be wholly a 
molecular phenomenon. The molecule of normal 
oxygen consists of two atoms (0 3 ). When in that 
state it is colorless, tasteless and odorless. If re- 
duced to a liquid it is transparent, displays a faint 
blue tint, and begins to boil and return to the 
gaseous form at 181.4° C. In the solid state it 
presents a dead white appearance. The molecule 
of ozone consists Of three atoms of oxygen (Oa), 
possesses a faint bluish color, but also a strong but 
not unpleasant odor. At 100° C. it becomes, un- 
der the proper pressure, a very deep blue, almost 
a black, liquid, which begins to boil at the tem- 
perature of 106° C. 

/AZONE was first observed in 1785 by the Dutch 
student Van Marum, who produced it un- 
designedly when passing an electrical current 
through some oxygen, and detected its peculiar 
odor. He also noticed that the same effect was 
always produced in the immediate vicinity of a 
frictional electric machine. In both cases he con- 
cluded that it was “the smell of electricity.” 

In 1801 the same odor was observed by an Eng- 
lish chemist named Cruikshank, who was engaged 
in decomposing some water by electricity. This 
time the phenomenon was ascribed to the acci- 
dental presence of a little chlorine which, if in very 
small quantities, has a somewhat similar effect on 
the olfactory nerves. 

Finally, in 1840, the attention of the German 
chemist, Schonbein, was drawn to the matter, and 
after a prolonged research he announced in 1845 
the discovery of a new gas, giving it the name it 
now bears. A few years later the French chemist, 
Soret, demonstrated its true character as merely 
an allotropic form of oxygen. 

Ozone is always present in minute quantities in 
the atmosphere, and in much larger quantities after 
a violent thunderstorm, during which it is pro- 
duced, giving the characteristic fresh and clean 
effect so noticeable after such a storm has passed 
away. It is a more powerful oxidizing agent than 
normal oxygen. Under confinement it will reduce 
iron, copper, mercury and even silver from the 
metalic state to that of the oxide, and will rapidly 
destroy rubber and vulcanite. It is a powerful 
bleaching agent and germ destroyer. The latter 



134 



VIGNETTES OF FAMOUS SCIENTISTS 



135 



property is sometimes employed in purifying the 
air in hospitals. Whenever and wherever the at- 
mosphere produces an exhilarating effect, and im- 
presses one as unusually fresh and clean, it will 
be found to contain temporarily more than its 



average content in ozone. The phenomenon is 
nature’s way of purifying the sea of air we live 
in when, for any reason, it has become abnormally 
impure and unhealthful. 

* * # # * 



• LEONARD ELLER • 



L EONHARD EULER was born at Basel, Switz- 
erland, April IS, 1707, and is regarded as one 
4 of the greatest of the mathematicians. In 
1723, at the age of sixteen, he graduated from the 
university of Basel, where he studied geometry un- 
der Jean Bernoulli, at that time one of the first 
mathematicians in Europe, and became a close 
friend of his sons, Daniel and Nicolas. After gradu- 
ation he specialized in his favorite studies with pri- 
vate instructors, devoting also several years to 
theology, medicine, the Oriental languages and such 
science as the accumulated knowledge of the day 
provided. 

At the age of twenty, and at the invitation of 
the Empress of Russia, Catherine I, Euler joined 
his friends in St. Petersburg, and became an asso- 
ciate of the Academy of Sciences there, serving first 
as a teacher of physics, then of mathematics, and 
finally inspector of the geographical department. 
The severity of the climate and close application 
to study affected his health and in 1735 he lost the 
sight of one eye, and about thirty years later be- 
came totally blind. In spite of his severe handicap 
he was, throughout his life, a persistent, undaunted 
and weariless investigator and teacher. 

In 1741 Euler went to Berlin at the command 
of Frederick the Great, and during the next twen- 
ty-five years contributed many memoirs to the 
Prussian Academy. During this period he contin- 
ued to contribute memoirs to the academy of St. 
Petersburg, and in 1766 he obtained, though with 
difficulty, permission to return to Russia. Soon 
afterwards a cataract formed in his left eye, which 
left him almost blind ; with the help of his sons and 
of Krafft and Lexell, however, he continued his 
work. In the next seven years he sent in 70 
memoirs to the Academy, and left in his papers 
some 200 more. He remained in St. Petersburg, an 
honored member of the faculty of the university 
of that city, until he died of apoplexy on Septem- 
ber 18, 1783. 

Euler’s greatest work was done in pure mathe- 
matics and he must be regarded as one of the 
founders of the modem science. His writings on 
mathematical subjects were remarkably numerous 
and are regarded of the highest value, for he pos- 
sessed a style of unusual clearness and easy intelli- 
gibility. Partial and even complete blindness did 
not lessen his mental vigor. When the latter mis- 
fortune overtook him, he employed as an amanu- 
ensis a young German who was, by trade, a tailor, 
and whose mathematical education had never 
progressed beyond the fundamentals. To him he 



dictated his remarkable “Introduction to Algebra,” 
in terms so clear and simple that his assistant, as 
the work advanced, became an expert algebraist. 

U'ULER treated trigonometry as a branch of 
" analysis. He introduced, at the same time as 
Thomas Simpson, the abbreviations now used for 
the trigonometric functions and made use of the 
symbols « and *. He made many investigations 
which were new in his time; he discussed the gen- 
eral equation of the second degree in three dimen- 
sions, and classified the surfaces represented by it ; 
he showed that the conic sections were represented 
by the general equation of the second degree in 
two dimensions. 

Euler carried his great mathematical faculties 
into the domain of physics. He was the first to 
deduce the equation of the curve of vibration in 
the phenomena of light rays, and to demonstrate 
their relation to, and dependence on the properties 
of density and elasticity in the medium that car- 
ried them — the ether of space. As a corollary from 
this, he showed mathematically that in the phe- 
nomenon of refraction it was the rays of greater 
length — those towards the red end of the spectrum 
— that underwent the smallest rate of dispersion 
in passing through the prism. In the face of the 
statement by the great Newton that a correction 
of chromatic aberration was unattainable, he in- 
vestigated the subject so deeply and thoroughly, 
that he was able at the end to write a prescription 
under which Dollond, the distinguished English 
optician and instrument maker, was able to con- 
struct a combination of lenses of different qualities 
of glass, which were practically achromatic. 

Although Euler’s most important work was done 
in pure mathematics he was a man of wide culture, 
interested in many branches of applied mathe- 
matics and science. He made important contribu- 
tions to astronomy, hydrodynamics and optics. In 
versatility of keen mental powers Euler ranks with 
Leonardo Da Vinci. Of all the great mathemati- 
cians that have arisen to date in the records of the 
science, he was preeminent in the faculty and habit 
of using that wonderful tool in solving practical 
problems in the arts. For example, he developed 
a method of determining longitude at sea, which 
brought him a share of the £20,000 prize offered 
by the British Parliament, the balance going to the 
instrument maker, Harrison, who constructed a 
chronometer sufficiently accurate to be used for 
the same purpose, the one checking the results 
indicated by the other. 




AIR RACE 

by Warren Kastel 

The race officials had a great 
problem. It seemed that the rules 
failed to cover a flying carpet . . . 



Checks Benson had a smile on his 
face as he maneuvered the carpet 
in a final burst of speed toward 
the finish line — and victory . . . 






136 



137 





138 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



C SHOCKS Benson paced his living 
. room carpet with the fervent 
' conviction that all the woes in 
the world had been wrapped into a sin- 
gle bundle and dumped upon his shoul- 
ders. Though not a perceptible bundle, 
it weighed him down so heavily that he 
groaned with every step. 

Tomorrow was the date of the Niles 
City Air Race, and Chocks would be 
unable to compete. For some human 
snake had taken a wrench and with it 
played a ghoulish tune upon the motor 
of Chock’s plane. And the plane, as it 
now lay in the hangar at the airport, 
would never fly again. 

Chocks groaned. If he could enter 
that race, he knew he’d have a good 
chance of winning the $5000 first prize. 
With that money he could open a little 
flying school of his own. And more than 
that; he would be able to marry Pat 
Andrews, who, according to the general 
concensus of opinion, was the prettiest 
little waitress that had ever taken an 
order at the Niles City Airport lunch- 
room. 

But his plane was now just a hulk 
of girders and cloth from which the 
life had flown. And that fact summed 
up all his troubles. For, without a 
plane he couldn’t enter the race. If he 
didn’t enter the race, he wouldn’t win 
the prize. If he didn’t win the prize, 
he wouldn’t be able to open up a flying 
school. And, without a flying school, he 
wouldn’t be able to marry Pat An- 
drews. 

Chocks kicked at the living room 
carpet, and because he was too pre- 
occupied with the troubles, didn’t see 
the carpet twitch remonstratingly. For 
a second he had imagined that the car- 
pet was Bert Stevens, and that he was 
treating a certain portion of Steven’s 
pants in the manner he had always 
longed to treat them. Bert Stevens was 
the thorn in the side of Chocks’ life. 



Stevens too was an aspirant for the 
hand of Pat Andrews, and though he 
had nothing in the way of looks and 
personality to recommend him, he had 
a lot of influence in his pocketbook. 

For Bert Stevens was the son of 
Horace M. Stevens, and the name of 
Horace M. Stevens is synonymous with 
oddles of money. Horace M. Stevens 
owned a shoe factory up near Carls- 
ville, the bank in Niles City, and sev- 
eral other things too numerous to men- 
tion. Suffice it to say that he had 
plenty in the way of cash. 

Chocks knew that Bert was entering 
the race solely to see that he didn’t 
win. $5000 dollars was just a nice little 
wad of pin money to Bert Stevens. 
Stevens no doubt hoped that the 
ignomony of losing would prejudice Pat 
against Chocks. 

Chocks felt the load of woe upon his 
shoulders settle deeper. There was 
nothing he could do. He couldn’t beg, 
borrow, or steal a plane, for every one 
for miles around would be entered in 
the race. And he knew, moreover, that 
he’d never be able to get a plane as 
fast as his had been. 

Before him Chocks saw stretching a 
desolate vista, totally devoid of life 
and happiness. He’d never be anything 
more than a mere grease monkey tink- 
ering with motors at some airport. 
Some airport, for after Pat was mar- 
ried to Bert Stevens he wouldn’t want 
to remain around Niles City where the 
iron would constantly be driven deeper 
into his soul. 

Chocks stopped and slammed a fist 
into the palm of his hand. “Oh, Lord,” 
he moaned, “if I could only fly in the 
race tomorrow. . . If I could only 
fly.” 

/'"''HOCKS was standing on the car- 
pet when he said that. The carpet 
twitched. The edges curled up. It shud- 



AIR RACE 



139 



dered and gave a preliminary heave. 

The next thing Chocks knew, he was 
being borne aloft toward the ceiling. 
His head banged against plaster with 
stunning force, and he yelled in con- 
fusion. 

“Hey! Hey — what the. . . 

The edges of the carpet were press- 
ing against the ceiling, and Chocks 
was wrapped with all the comfort of a 
bug in a rug. But with none of the 
bug’s peace of mind. 

“Hey! Let me down!” 

The carpet floated down from the 
ceiling, and came to rest with feather 
softness upon the floor. Chocks scram- 
bled to his feet, and bounced off the 
carpet. He stood on the other side of 
the living room, his jaw hanging open. 

“N-n-now w-wha-what t-th the 
hell?” Chocks muttered. 

But the carpet lay quietly on the 
floor as good carpets should, and for 
a moment Chocks was tempted to dis- 
miss his recent escapade as a halluci- 
nation. The bump on his head, how- 
ever, kept him convinced that it had 
all been perfectly real. 

Not taking his eyes from the carpet, 
Chocks sidled to a chair and sank 
down. He stared at the carpet. It was 
an old, frayed and tattered carpet, and 
whatever design it might have had had 
gone with the passing of years and the 
rubbing of feet. The sole distinction it 
yet possessed was its Arabian ancestry. 
Chocks remembered the day his father 
brought it home from an auction, and 
his mother’s tirade which had followed. 
The carpet had lain in the attic neg- 
lected for many years, and only re- 
cently had Chocks brought it down to 
cover the worn spot in the living room 
rug. 

And now, Chocks reflected, the car- 
pet had taken a bite out of the hand 
which had taken care of it. The carpet 
lay on the floor quietly, showing no fur- 



ther indication of animation. At last 
Chocks got up enough nerve to creep 
up and peer at it narrowly. Still it re- 
mained lifeless, and to all indications 
perfectly harmless. 

He pressed the toe of a shoe upon 
it gingerly, but the carpet didn’t move 
in retaliation. Chocks felt a momen- 
tary surge of disgust. Why he had 
walked on this very carpet for years, 
and now was acting as if it were some 
monster ready to spring at him. 

Chocks tightened his lips and 
stepped upon the carpet. Watching it 
closely, he said: 

“Up.” 

The carpet went up. It rose with an 
enthusiasm that threw Chocks to hands 
and knees. Midway between floor and 
ceiling, it hovered. 

Chocks swallowed his heart back to 
where it belonged, and turned over so 
that he could sit down. He began to 
grin. 

“Giddy-up,” he said. “Easy now — ” 

The carpet circled the living room 
like a soaring swallow. It dipped and 
curved with surety and ease. It rivaled 
the grace of any airplane Chocks had 
ever flown. 

His grin grew to a broad smile. Bert 
Stevens was far from having the edge 
on him yet. 

“Whoa!” Chocks commanded im- 
periously. 

The carpet settled down on the floor 
again, and Chocks strode off. The bur- 
den of woes had disappeared from his 
shoulders. 

For tomorrow would find him in the 
Niles City air race. . . . 

/"'HOCKS arrived at the airport a 
^ half hour ahead of time. He carried 
the carpet under his arm and he was 
whistling. 

Already the stands had begun to fill 
and from the looks of things there 



140 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



would be a capacity crowd. Some of the 
planes were already on the line and 
mechanics were busily engaged in giv- 
ing final tunings to powerful motors. 
Chocks sidled along the hangers until 
he came to the hanger where his plane 
was. Pat Andrews was there, waiting 
for him. 

“Hello, Chocks,” she said, a pitying 
look in her eyes. “Your mechanic told 
me what happened, and I’m awful 
sorry. I know how much this race 
meant to you.” 

“Sorry?” Chocks asked gaily. 
“Why?” 

“Why?” the girl cried in astonish- 
ment. “How can you race now that 
your plane has been wrecked?” Her 
voice softened, “I wonder who could 
have done such a nasty thing?” 

“Doesn’t matter.” Chocks said indif- 
ferently, “I’ve got another plane.” He 
touched the carpet under his arm. 

“You’ve got another plane?” said 
Pat in surprise. “Why that’s marvel- 
ous! Where did you get it and where’s 
it at?” 

“Got it from the parlor, and it’s 
right here.” Chocks grinned at her. 

“Here? Parlor?” A frown crept over 
her pretty face. “But I don’t under- 
stand.” 

Chocks held the carpet in front of 
him. “This is my plane,” he said. “And 
it’s going to win the race for me this 
afternoon.” 

The girl’s mouth dropped ever so 
slightly. The frown on her forehead in- 
creased and she looked at Chocks with 
the wary regard one gives to an in- 
mate of the state asylums. 

“No, I’m not crazy, Pat — I’m dead 
serious. This innocent little carpet act- 
ually can fly.” 

Pat didn’t say anything. She couldn’t 
find anything to say. Her eyes, how- 
ever, plainly said that the sudden loss 
of Chocks’ chance to take part in the 



air race had unbalanced him. 

Just then Bert Stevens rounded the 
corner of Chocks’ hanger. He was grin- 
ning. 

“Hi folks!” the grin on his face 
widened. “Sorry to hear about your 
plane, Chocks. Too bad, too bad!” 

Chocks lost a little of his carefree 
manner. He was thinking just then that 
if anyone had ruined his motor it was 
Bert Stevens. 

“Yeah,” he said drily, “Too bad, 
isn’t it? It’s pretty plain that the rat 
who did it didn’t want me to win. He 
must have been pretty yellow to do a 
thing like that.” He let the words sink 
in, and they did. Stevens” face turned 
just the slightest tinge red. Then 
Chocks added: “But it won’t do the 
skunk any good. I’ve got another plane 
and it’s a damned sight faster than my 
old one!” 

“You’ve got another plane? . 
Stevens frowned bewilderedly. 

“Yep.” Chocks drawled. 

“But — but where’s it at?” Stevens 
echoed puzzedly. “It’s not on the start- 
ing line.” 

“It will be.” said Chocks, and he 
noticed that Pat was looking at Stevens 
with raised eyebrows. It didn’t take 
long for him to catch on. Now they 
both thought he was cracked. Stevens 
laughed and clapped Chocks on the 
back. 

“Well, I’ll be lookin’ for you on the 
line!” he said, his voice edged with 
sarcasm, and he walked off laughing. 

Chocks looked at Pat. Pat looked 
at Chocks. Then she shook her head 
and grasped his arm. 

“Don’t take it so hard, Chocks,” 
she said, you musn’t let this get you 
down. There’ll be other races.” 

“Yeah, after I win this one,” Chocks 
said. 

The girl shrugged hopelessly and 
walked away. Then Chocks grinned 



AIR RACE 



141 



after her and strode towards the 
Judges’ stand to check in . . . 

r "p HERE were fourteen sleek ships 
-*• on the starting line. They stood in 
an even line along the tarmac. But 
there was a noticeably empty space in 
their ranks. The space where Chock’s 
plane should have been. 

The race was scheduled to start in 
five minutes when Chocks made his 
way towards the lineup. A murmuring 
arose from the crowd when they saw 
him. Word had spread that he wouldn’t 
be able to race. But there he was, strid- 
ing across the Field with a bundle 
under his arm. The puzzled murmuring 
of the crowd grew louder. 

Reaching his position Chocks dropped 
the bundle to the ground and swiftly 
unrolled it. The crowd gasped as they 
saw it was a carpet. Chocks sat down 
and peeled off his coat. 

Chocks knew he made a ludicrous 
figure sitting in the middle of a line of 
airplanes, upon nothing more substan- 
tial than a mass of woven wool. But he 
was not daunted. Hadn’t they laughed 
at the Wright Brothers? 

Chocks glanced around him. Pilots 
were smirking in their planes and point- 
ing at him in derision. Off to one side 
there was a heated discussion going on 
in the Judges’ booth. Chocks knew who 
they were discussing. Suddenly one of 
them climbed down the platform and 
made his way towards the line. He was 
a pompous little man boasting the rem- 
nants of what had once been a prolific 
head of hair. It was Horace M. Stevens, 
Bert Stevens’ father. He waddled im- 
portantly up to Chocks. 

“What’s the meaning of this, Ben- 
son?” he demanded. “Are you trying to 
make a farce out of this race!” 

Chocks sighed. “Look, Stevens,” he 
said, managing to keep his voice even, 
“I’ve paid my entry fee, been granted 



a position in the lineup, and am in my 
spot on time. I don’t think there’s any- 
thing else I’m supposed to do?” 

“But good heavens, man, this is an 
airplane race — not an Arabian festival. 
You’re not only making yourself ridi- 
culous but the whole commission as 
well!” 

“To hell with the commission,” 
Chocks said hotly. Get back to your 
own side of the tracks. If I want to 
make a fool of myself, that’s my 
business!” 

Horace Stevens glared at Chocks 
then shrugged and turned to waddle 
back to the Judging stand. 

A hush settled over the grandstand 
as the starter signalled contact. There 
was a thundering roar as fourteen pow- 
erful motors burst into life. Wind 
screamed from the backwash and flat- 
tened the grass behind them. The spec- 
tators tensed. The moment was at 
hand. 

There was an amused but puzzled 
smile on every face as they looked at 
the insignificant figure of Chocks, sit- 
ting astride a worn little carpet in the 
center of the field. The starter raised 
his flag and counted the seconds on 
his watch. 

The hum of the motors was a steady 
roar. Then the flag flashed down! 

Throttles burst into life and the 
planes began to move forward. Slowly 
at first, and then with gathering speed. 
But something suddenly shot past them. 

The carpet rose with the ease of a 
feather and shot ahead like a bullet 
gone berserk. It was a half mile in the 
heavens before a single plane had left 
the ground. Chocks chuckled. Chocks 
laughed. Chocks roared. He gripped 
the sides of the tattered rug and yelled 
in wild abandonment. Then he glanced 
downwards. 

The rest of the planes had taken the 
air now and were circling for altitude. 



142 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



Chocks could see the amazed faces of 
their pilots. In particular Chocks noted 
the incredulous look upon the face of 
Bert Stevens. He had the look of a 
baby having gained possession of a 
large sucker was suddenly deprived of 
it. Then, with a savagery, the race was 
on. 

From the moment it started, until the 
moment it stopped the end was ap- 
parent. Chocks flew like a bat out of 
hell in any and all directions at the 
same time. He flew with a recklessness 
that brought gasps to the throats of the 
crowds below. He looped and turned, 
and dove and twisted. He cut in and 
out of the other ships like a wasp on a 
spree. He circled above them and came 
flashing down with the speed of a 
comet. He missed propellors by inches 
and came closer to the whirling props 
at every turn. He would spurt ahead 
with a speed that made the other ships 
look like crawling insects. Then he 
would turn and race back a mile to 
repeat the performance. His hair flew 
wildly about him in disarray. His 
clothes were flattened against his body 
in the savage pull of the wind. He clung 
to the carpet with the tenacity of a 
leech. 

Then, when there was scarcely a mile 
to go, he suddenly shot forward and 
dove towards the finish line. He landed 
as lightly as a feather and rose to watch 
the other ships come in. Bert Stevens 
was the first to land by a good lap 
ahead of the others. But Chocks had 
found time to light a cigarette and was 
walking toward the Judges’ stand to 
collect the first prize before Stevens’ 
ship had even touched the ground. 

“T PROTEST!” thundered Bert 
Stevens. “That race wasn’t fair! 
This was supposed to be an airplane 
race — there was no provision made for 
flying rugs!” 



Bedlam ensued. There was a huge 
crowd around the Judges’ stand watch- 
ing the heated argument that was in 
progress. 

“I entered this race fairly and was 
accepted!” Chocks retorted. “And be- 
sides there are no provisions in the 
rules which prohibit a flying carpet! 
They don’t even specify that entrants 
must see an airplane — but just fly!” 

“Why should they?” Stevens de- 
manded. “What else besides an airplane 
would be in an air race?” 

“I guess I showed you that.” Chocks 
answered drily. “And since I won I de- 
mand my prize!” 

“But you didn’t win fairly!” Stev- 
ens shouted. Then a crafty gleam en- 
tered his eyes. “I’ll race you alone in 
planes, then we’ll see who’ll come in 
first!” 

Chocks saw the strategy behind 
Stevens’ words. He know as well as 
did Stevens that he would have no 
chance of winning in such a race. Stev- 
ens’ plane had proved its superiority 
over the others. It was a trap that 
Chocks knew he must avoid. 

The Judges went into consultation. 
Horace M. Stevens was conspicuous in 
the debate. His pudgy arms waved con- 
tinually. And he seemed to be winning 
his point. Suddenly he approached the 
loudspeaker. The crowd silenced ex- 
pectantly. 

“The results of the race, because of 
their, er — unusual circumstances, have 
given rise to the question of validity.” 
He paused to mop his forehead. He 
was having a hard time finding words. 
Then: “We have decided that the only 
way to settle this matter is to have the 
two leading contestants engage in a 
separate race to decide the winner.” 
The crowd cheered. They were looking 
for more thrills. Horace M. Stevens 
waved his arms. 

“Chocks Benson will be given his 



AIR RACE 



143 



choice of the remaining planes, and. 
. . He didn’t get any further. Chocks 
suddenly shoved him aside and ad- 
dressed the crowd. 

“I refuse to fly any plane with Bert 
Stevens! He knows that his ship is 
faster than any other on the field — he 
knows he can beat me without even 
trying that way. I won the race today 
fairly. If any other race is to be run it 
should be on an equal basis. Since the 
protest has been entered against my 
carpet and not me — then we’ll let the 
carpet be the deciding factor!” 

The crowd thundered its approval. 
This was just the thing crowds like to 
have happen. Chocks roared into the 
microphone. 

“We’ll cut the carpet in half and each 
of us will take a piece. Then we’ll run 
the race over, and the winner will get 
the prize!” 

A blast of approval greeted Chocks’ 
words. 

Bert Stevens turned helplessly to his 
father. Horace M. Stevens turned to 
the Judges. 

They argued. 

They argued some more. 

But the crowd kept up its thunder. 
They knew what they wanted now, and 
they wouldn’t give in. The Judges 
looked at the crowd and look at Horace 
M. Stevens. They decided that it was 
one against a couple thousand enthu- 
siastic spectators, and the spectators 
were the stronger. The Judges gave in. 

Chocks carried the carpet down to 
the field and someone produced a pair 
of scissors. He cut the rug in two. Then 
he arose and gave Bert Stevens one of 
the halves. 

Stevens was pale as he took the piece 
of carpet. There was a bewildered look 
upon his face. 

“H-how does the thing work?” he 
stammered. 

Chicks’ grin widened. “When you 



want to go up, say up. When you want 
to go down, say down. The carpet will 
go where you tell it to. That’s all there 
is to it.” 

Stevens, paling, mumbled something 
like: “ — up — down — up — ” 

The crowd was getting restless as 
Chocks placed his portion of carpet 
on the tarmac. Stevens, in a daze, fol- 
lowed suit. 

Chocks sat down and calmly folded 
his arms. Beside him Bert Stevens was 
clutching his portion with a desperate 
grip. Stevens’ face was turning a deli- 
cate green. 

ttORACE T. STEVENS was still 

* remonstrating with the Judges, 
but they, since they included the Mayor 
of Niles City, a would-be mayor of 
Niles City, and the Sheriff and a 
would-be sheriff of Niles City, remained 
adamant. Election time was near, and 
they knew that if their popularity at 
the polls was to be assured, they’d have 
to please the people. 

“Start the race ! ” the crowd was yell- 
ing. 

“On with the race!” 

“Hurry up!” 

The Judges nodded and beamed and 
sat back in their seats. Horace M. 
Stevens shrunk within his fat, and 
threw a look of despair at Bert. 

The starter’s gun was raised in the 
air. His eyes were glued to his stop 
watch. 

Boom! 

The rugs leaped into the air, and 
Stevens in spite of his frenzieed clutch 
upon the edges, was almost torn off as 
the wind gripped at him. He yelped in 
fear. 

The crowd, demanding action, yelled 
in derision. Horace M. Stevens moaned. 

Chocks circled leisurely while Bert 
Stevens learned to manage his portion 
of carpet. At last the other caught the 



144 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



knack, and Chocks, deciding that from 
now on Stevens was on his own, took 
off in earnest. 

He bent low on the carpet, the “wind 
whistling past his ears. The ground be- 
low him was a dim brown blur. He 
neared the first pylon, and even as the 
sight of it registered on his eyes, he 
was around and past it. The carpet 
seemed to know everything that was 
supposed to be done. 

As he rounded the next pylon, 
Chocks looked back to see how Bert 
Stevens was coming on. Stevens had 
himself wrapped around his piece of 
carpet so that little of anything of it 
could be seen. His eyes were closed 
and his teeth were clicking like cas- 
tenets. 

Chocks hovered a moment over the 
grandstand and waved gaily to the yell- 
ing, shrieking throngs. Then he lined 
out for the home pylon, circled it, and 
came swooping down to earth. 

It was some minutes before Bert 
Stevens landed. When he did, he 
crawled slowly from his rug, and quiet- 
ly consigned his recent lunch to the 
ground. 

The spectators swept all around 
Chocks, cheering and yelling. The 
judges wormed their way importantly 
through the crowd, beaming benignant- 
ly. When a space had been cleared 
about Chocks, and when the yelling had 
died down sufficiently to enable them to 
be heard. The Mayor began a nice 
speech, and when it was finished, he 
proudly presented Chocks with the 
$5000 prize. Horace M. Stevens was 
to have presented the prize, but had 
changed his mind. 

Chicks stammered out his thanks and 
turned to look for Pat. She was at the 
outer fringes of the crowd, and the ex- 
pression on her face made Chocks go 
warm inside. He told himself that she 



would be the first student at his new 
flying school — after they were finally 
married. 

“Wait! Wait, I protest!” Bert Stev- 
ens had swayed to his feet and was 
staggering toward Chocks and the 
Judges. 

Suddenly Chocks’ eyes narrowed. As 
Bert Stevens had stood up, a small 
bright object had fallen from his dis- 
arranged clothing. Chocks recognized 
it instantly for a small, very expensive 
part of his wrecked plane! 

A river of wrath surged through him. 
So it was Bert Stevens who had de- 
stroyed his plane after all! And Stev- 
ens had shown himself to be mercenary 
enough to steel that expensive metal 
part besides. 

Chocks leaped forward and scooped 
the metal object from the ground. 
Holding it up for all to see, he roared: 

“You all know that someone 
wrecked my plane to prevent me from 
taking part in the race. See this gad- 
get? It came from my plane, and the 
other mechanics can prove it. It came 
from Bert Stevens’ pocket!” 

The crowd eyed Bert Stevens and 
muttered ominously. The Sheriff ceased 
to be a judge and stepped forward to 
uphold the dignity of his office. He did 
it with gusto, considering all the votes 
he would get by so doing. 

“Bert Stevens, I arrest you in the 
name of the law! You are charged 
with malicious property damage. Better 
come with me, and quietly.” 

“Go to hell!” Bert Stevens snarled. 
“My father — ” 

He was standing on Chocks’ portion 
of carpet when he said that. He never 
completed the rest. For suddenly it 
leaped up into the sky. In a moment 
Bert Stevens and the rug were vanish- 
ing dots. 

The carpet was being obliging . . . 

THE END 



READERS PAGE 







WAUKEGAN SOS 
Sirs: 

This is an SOS. Is there anybody in Waukegan, 
Illinois, or vicinity, who is interested enough in 
stf to want to correspond with me? I'm being 
assailed on all sides by friends (such as they are) 
for filling my mind with “that trash”, and it’s 
getting kind of lonesome all by myself. 

Although I’m a novice in the field, I’ll do my 
best to keep up an interesting correspondence. 

I am also interested in the Shaver Mystery. If 
I joined and sent in my dollar subscription now 
could I get the back issues of the club magazine? 
Hope to hear from somebody soon. 

James Stewart, 

821 Massena Ave., 
Waukegan, 111. 

Come on, you Waukegan fans — get on the ball! 
As as to the Shaver Mystery Club and its slick 
little club magazine, we’d suggest that you send 
your subscription to the Club at 2414 Lawrence 
Avenue, Chicago. We’re sure that Chet Geier 
will be glad to have you join, and in all likeli- 
hood he will still have a few back issues to bring 
you up to date on the club’s affairs. . . ED. 

LEE FRANCIS IS TOPS 
Sirs: 

Here I am again, and the only way you are 
going to get away from me is to stop putting such 
dog-gone good stories in FA. Then, and only then, 
will I stop reading FA. AMAZING is a close 
second, but can’t top or tie FA with me. 

Here’s how I rate the stories in the April issue 
— a swell issue. 

1. “Flight Into Fog” by Lee Francis. This is 
only the third story by Lee Francis that I have 
read, but I want to say that she — or — he whoever 
Lee may be, is super with me! 

2. “Lair of the Grimalkin.” 

3. “Coffin of Life and Death.” 

4. “The Wandering Swordsmen.” 

5. “The Curse of Ra.” 

6. “The Cat-Snake.” 

7. “Who Sups With the Devil.” 

The feature article on herbs was too short. 
There was much more that could have been cov- 
ered — like using the thorn weed as a cure for 
itch, and many others. The features are always 
interesting, however. I’ll see you after I finish 
reading the next issue of FA. 

Zeda P. Mishler, 

423 Woodland Ave., 
Johnstown, Pa. 



Lee Francis is a “ he ”, Zeda. And we’re right ivith 
you in saying that we too think he is tops, super, 
and in every way one fine writer. Along these 
lines, keep your eye on FA for a new novel com- 
ing up by Lee Francis. It’s a dilly, and you won’t 
want to miss it. As to the features, you, they are 
somewhat short, but to cover subjects like that in 
full detail all at once would be something of a 
problem. So you’ll probably be seeing another 
article on herbs in the future, covering points 
that were untouched in the first article. Anyway, 
we’re glad you find the features interesting read- 
ing. Some of our readers like them almost as 
well as the stories. And we’ll be waiting for your 
next letter ED. 

OUR BEST NOVEL YET 
Sirs: 

I have just finished reading Lawrence Chand- 
ler’s “Forgotten Worlds” in the May FA. I want 
to say it is without a doubt the best novel you 
have yet published in either of your two fine 
books, AS or FA. I personally rate it over the 
works of Howard Browne — his “Warrior of the 
Dawn”, and Nelson Bond’s “Sons of the Deluge.” 

As you can see, I’m a very rabid reader of your 
two magazines. I have issues dating back to 1939. 
. . . But now I have a bone to pick. 

How can you rate the works of Richard S. 
Shaver with writers like Nelson Bond, Howard 
Browne, Don Wilcox, Stanley G. Weinbaura, 
Leroy Yerxa, Eando Binder, Frank Patton, and 
Edgar Rice Burroughs? I can’t stand his stories. 
No doubt all the Shaver fans will demand my 
blood, and perhaps you will too, but this is my 
opinion, and I have the right to express it. 

This is my first letter to any magazine, but 
maybe I’ll have beginner’s luck in having it 
printed. Anyway, I hope so. 

Harvey Morgan, 

2237 Park Place, 

Wichita 4, Kansas. 

W e’ re very glad you liked Lawrence Chandler’s 
novel so well, Harvey. It’s gratifying to know 
that we can pick new writers who will ring the 
bell like Chandler, with you readers. Unfortu- 
nately we didn’t have room this issue for other 
letters on the May issue, but we’ll try and make 
up for that next issue. As for Shaver, well, all 
we can say is that Dick is very popular with a 
lot of our readers. You must admit one thing 
however, that Shaver has really stirred up a con- 
troversy both pro and con ED. 



145 



146 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 




PREACHING TO FISH 

★ By FRANCES YERXA * 



T HE Kwakiuti Indians of British Columbia 
think that when a salmon is killed its soul 
returns to the salmon country. So they 
are careful to throw the bones and waste material 
back into the sea where the soul can go back 
into them at the resurrection of the salmon. If 
they burned the bones the soul would be lost 
and it would be impossible for the salmon to 
arise from the dead. The Ottawa Indians of 
Canada believe that souls of dead fish pass into 
other bodies of fish, so they never burn fish 

bones for fear of offending the souls of fish and 

they would not come into their nets. The Hurons 
don’t throw fish bones in the fire because the 

souls of the fish would warn other fish not to 

be caught because their bones would be burned. 
They also employ men to preach to the fish, 
persuading them to come and be caught. A good 
preacher was much in demand for they thought 
that he had great power in drawing the fish 
to their nets. In the Huron fishing village there 
was an especially eloquent preacher. Every night 
after the evening meal, he had all the people 
sitting silently in their places while he preached 
to the fish. His main text was that the Hurons 
would never burn fish bones. He invited and 
pleaded with the fish to come and be caught, 
and to fear nothing because they would be 
serving their friends who honored them and 
did not burn their bones. In German New 
Guinea an enchanter is employed to lure the 
fish to their doom. He stands in a canoe on 
the beach with a decorated fish basket, and 
orders the fish to come trom all parts of the 
sea. When the Aino have killed a sword fish, 



they thank the fish for allowing them to catch 
him and invite him to come again. 

Among the Nootka Indians of British Columbia, 
it was a rule that anyone that had eaten bear’s 
flesh must not eat fish for at least two months. 
They believed that fish of all kinds, even though 
a great distance away would come to know of it, 
and be so offended that they would not allow 
themselves to be caught by any of the inhabi- 
tants. When the herring disappeared from the 
sea around Heligoland in 1530, the blame was 
placed on two boys who had whipped two 
freshly caught herring and then flung them back 
into the sea. Scotch fishermen believe that if 
blood is spilled into the sea as a result of a 
quarrel, the herring will leave that port and 
not return again that season. West Highland 
fishermen believe that every shoal of herring 
has its leader which it follows wherever he goes. 
This leader is bigger than the other fish, and 
if a fisherman happens to catch it, he very care- 
fully puts him back into the sea. It would be 
considered treason to destroy royal fish. 

The natives of the Duke of York Island each 
year decorate a canoe with flowers and ferns, fill 
it with shell money, and set it adrift to compensate 
the fish for their brothers who have been caught 
and eaten. When the Tarahumares of Mexico are 
going to poison the waters of a river in order to 
stupify the fish so they can be caught, they first 
make offerings to the master of the fish by way of 
payment for the fish of which they are about to re- 
lieve him. The offering consist of axes, knives, beads, 
and blankets which are hung on a horizontal bar in 
the middle of the river. The master of the fish, 



PREACHING TO THE FISH 



147 



however, does not have long to enjoy these offer- 
ings, for the next morning the owners of articles 
reclaim them and put them back into use. It is 
always necessary to treat the first fish caught with 
much consideration in order to conciliate the rest 
of the fish, whose conduct may be supposed to be 



influenced by the reception given to those of their 
kind which were the first to be taken. So the 
Maoris always put back into the sea, the first fish 
caught with a prayer that it may tempt other fish 
to come and be caught. 

* * * 



THE OLYMPIAN MUSES 

★ By CHARLES RECOLR * 



T HE Greeks have made many contributions 
to our civilization. The offerings they have 
given our culture are immeasurable, and 
among the things the ancient Greeks evolved, 
nothing is more beautiful than their system of 
mythology. All the peoples of the world have 
given us mythological stories and beliefs, but 
none have stressed the aspect of beauty in them 
as have the ancient Greeks. The ideal of Grecian 
life was beauty, pure unadulterated beauty that 
would stir man to his very core. This intense love 
of beauty then is reflected in the Grecian stories 
of their gods. 

A particularly effective series of stories con- 
cern the Muses. The Muses were the nine daugh- 
ters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They were beauti- 
ful and talented and the world of the arts and 
sciences was their scope. Everyone honored them 
and wherever feasts or celebrations were held, 
offerings and libations were made to the Muses. 
Their function was to inspire Man with the ideas 
that produced his noblest thoughts in art and sci- 
ence, poetry and literature. Even today we say 
“that we have been inspired by the Muse” when 
we have done something outstanding in these 
fields. 

Calliope, the most highly regarded of the Muses, 
reigned over song and poetry. She appears as a 
beauty with a pencil and a slate. Clio, the next, 
was the Muse of history, and she carried a roll 
of parchment on which were inscribed the events 
of the known world. Melpomene, was the Muse 
of Tragedy, and she wears a tragic mask. Thalia, 
the comedienne, carries a comic mask. Polyhym- 
nia, of the sacred hymns, wears a wreath of laurel. 
Terpsichore, whom we all know as the goddess of 
the dance, appears playing a seven-stringed lyre. 
Urania, the goddess of astronomy, carries a celes- 
tial sphere. Euterpe, goddess of harmony, bears 
always a flute. Erato, the Muse of love, is always 
depicted wearing a laurel and playing a lyre. 
These then were the representations of the Muses. 

While they were worshipped indiscriminately 
by both gods and mortals alike, and while their 
origin was basically in beauty, as in all legends, 
there runs through their activities the inevitable 
streak of cruelty. Perhaps this was in contrast. 
Regardlessly, they did some unpleasant things at 
times. 



For example, on earth, there was a Thracian 
bard of great renown, named Thamyris. Being an 
accomplished artisan, he foolishly challenged the 
Muses to a contest of skill. The Muses however 
were vain beyond all reason, of their abilities and 
that a mere human should dare to compare him- 
self with them was intolerable! They acceded to 
the trial, and as would be expected, they van- 
quished him. Not content with this, they caused 
his blindness and to top things off they deprived 
him of his ability to sing! There was vengeance 
with a capital Vee. 

The daughters of King Pierus, mere mortal crea- 
tures also invited the Muses to a contest. On 
Mount Helicon, these bold creatures fought their 
battle of beauty with the nine Muses. But the 
gods looked on enraged. While these mortals 
sang, the skies darkened and lightning filled the 
sky. When the Muses entered their offering, 
however, the whole of Nature became overjoyed 
and even the Mount writhed with ecstasy. The 
daughters of Pierus were not to get off easily for 
their audacity. The Muses had them changed into 
singing birds as a punishment. The Sirens, those 
women whose lower extremities were formed like 
birds of the sea, and who had wings, were also 
equipped with magnificent voices with which 
they lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks. 
In fact they were the personification of the rocks 
along the seashore. With this ability, they, too, 
tried to challenge the Muses. They made an 
error. Not only were they soundly trounced, but 
they were stripped of the feathers which adorned 
them. 

From these various tales it can be seen that 
though the Greeks adorned their legendary gods 
and goddesses with great beauty and with great 
ability, and though they believed that beauty was 
an end in itself, they still could not resist the in- 
jection of little cruelties here and there. 

Nevertheless we can forgive them for that. 
Their contributions to beauty far outweigh those 
to cruelty. It is impossible for a lover of nature 
to walk in the woods, listening to the sighing of 
the wind through the trees or the rustling of a 
brook without thinking — perhaps against his bet- 
ter judgment — that these are really the voices of 
the ancient Grecian gods and that the forests are 
haunted with their long-gone presence. 



148 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 




WEIRD SACRIFICE 



* By JUNE LURIE ★ 



C LAYTON L. LENNINGS was an amateur 
anthropologist and as such his word never 
carried much weight with the scientific 
world, but his findings, reported in the Peruvian 
Journal and in a number of American newspapers, 
make interesting speculation. Lennings, who is 
still quite active in the field, is at present back in 
South America with the same firm that, he worked 
for before the war. It is possible that he may have 
something more to report. 

Lennings originally went to Peru as the repre- 
sentative of an American manufacturing firm in 
1938. He stated that the work was not arduous 
and left him free for pursuing his favorite hobby, 
a more than somewhat dabbling in anthropology. 
He visited a number of libraries and became inter- 
ested in a little known tribe of head-hunting 
Indians, the Gyotos. It was a trip to the interior 
of Peru, during which he naturally left Lima, 
that gave him his opportunity to do some real 
field work. 

His trip brought him to a small but productive 
copper mine located in the depths of the Peruvian 
jungle. His job was to attempt to convince the 
manager of the mine to persuade his employers 
to buy some floatation mining equipment to 
further increase the productivity of their mine. 

One evening Lennings, left the camp, and 
armed with a rifle and a flashlight, he decided 
to make a nocturnal jungle trip in the near 
vicinity at least, with the hope of perhaps con- 
tacting some of the odd Indian tribes the area 
was rumored to possess. The mining camp was 
easy to locate being marked by a hundred foot 
antenna with a light on top of it. Lennings had 



no fear of getting lost. He had gotten no farther 
than ten or twelve miles from the camp, when 
he stumbled into a small clearing about three 
hundred feet across. He crept up to it, noting 
that it was occupied and appeared to be some 
crude sort of an Indian village. There was a 
central fire about which not more than thirty or 
forty Indians were gathered, and some sort of 
activity was being engaged in by a few near the 
fire. The remaining Indians seemed to be more 
spectators or worshippers than anything else. 
Lennings got near enough to the group to see 
what was going on. 

A stake had been set up near the fire and to it 
w'as tied a lovely, nude young Indian girl. She 
was firmly bound and her mouth w'as thoroughly 
gagged so that she could make no outcry. A 
savagely painted priest or witch-doctor of sorts, 
was thrusting thorns into the skin all over her 
body and her writhings apparently pleased the 
Indians for they were before the tableau def- 
initely like worshippers. Later, Lennings admitted 
how foolish he had been even thinking of doing 
anything about rescuing her, but he was a white 
man trained in the morals of western civilization 
and he had to. Rifle in hand, he strode right 
into the middle of the group, and in the few words 
of Indian dialect that he knew he told them to 
break it up and stop it. 

For a moment they were all too startled to do 
anything, but they had had contact with white 
men before and evidently knew what a rifle was 
like for they did not rush him. Instead the 
priest, or chief, or whatever he was, barked some 
rapid words to the angry Indians who by now 



WEIRD SACRIFICE 



149 



had crept up close to Lennings. They did not 
attack him, and for his part he did no more than 
menace them with the rifle. Without much palaver, 
the chief or priest reached over to the girl, now 
half-fainting, cut her bonds, removed her gag 
and let her stagger out of the circle. Then he 
simply made it understood that Lenning was to 
go. Lennings was helpless as far as doing anything 
else went. He could not take the girl with him 
and yet he knew that she was certainly doomed if 
she remained. He decided to leave. With mutter- 
ings and imprecations the Indians opened a path 
for him and Lennings went back to camp. At 
first the superintendent would hardly believe his 
story but with a handful of armed men they went 
back to the spot where Lenning had witnessed 
what he thought of as “the potential sacrifice.” 
The remains of the camp were there but all traces 



of the Indians had vanished. Even the stake had 
been taken down, indicating that the Indians no 
doubt knew that they were doing something that 
was ordinarily frowned on in the best white 
circles. 

Lennings reported the incident to authorities in 
Lima, Peru, who told him that, while sacrifice 
was uncommon, weird rites were not, and that as 
yet things were still in too primitive a state to 
permit the authorities to properly monitor jungle 
tribes. Trivial as the event was in retrospect, 
Lennings says, it left him with the feeling that 
barbaric rites are probably practiced to a greater 
degree today than anyone has any idea of. Other 
professional explorers have confirmed this. That 
death was intended for the girl, Lennings never 
doubted — it was just the method that shocked 
him. 



BUSY BEES 

★ By CAL WEBB * 



A HONEYBEE hive is a bustling commun- 
ity where their food is stored. There are 
the workers, drones, and the queen bee. 
During midsummer an average hive may house 
2,000 drones, 50,000 workers, and one queen. A 
special food called “royal jelly” is fed the queen 
bee, and the more they feed her, the more eggs 
she lays. A special crew of workers feed the queen 
and help her around from one cell to another to 
lay the eggs. In a single day she may lay 3,000 
eggs, each in a separate cell. In spite of all the 
help she has quite a hard day. Some of the work- 
ers watch over the larvae which hatches from the 
eggs. It has to be fed before it can turn into 
bees. 

The cells vary in size. The smaller are for larvae 
that will hatch into workers. The workers are 
female, but they seldom lay eggs. If they should, 
the eggs would produce drones. The larger cells 
are made for the larvae that will turn into prin- 
cesses or queens. If the queen should die, there 
must be another one to take her place. New 
queens are also needed to lead off new swarms 
when the hive becomes over-crowded. Royal jelly 
is fed to the larvae that is to become queens. 

Most of the workers are out gathering honey. 
They take pollen as well as nectar from the blos- 
soms, being sure that they visit only one kind of 
blossom in a single trip. As the bees move about 
from one blossom to another, they lose a bit of 
pollen from their wings on other blossoms. This 
pollenization is needed so that the plants can pro- 
duce seeds that will grow the next season. The 
workers work so hard that they only live about 
six weeks during the busy season. Workers born 
in the fall live through the winter. Drones live 
about four months and do nothing. Queens live 



two or three years, although some have been 
known to live eight years. 

There can be only one queen living peacefully 
in a hive. When new queens are born during the 
summer, the old queen may take some of the 
workers and leave the hive for a new home. 
When there are several princesses, they fight it out 
to see who becomes queen. It is a fight to death. 
Sometimes the old queen is unwilling to give up 
her home and is successful in holding her position 
in the hive. In this case the new queens take 
part of the workers and seek new homes. If they 
refuse to leave, the mother queen may kill them. 
She is lacking in motherly love for she is capable 
of stinging her own children to death. 

When honeybees swarm and leave their old 
hive, they must make a new home. If they don’t 
go into a prepared hive, they will go into a hol- 
low limb, or perhaps, down an old chimney. 
First they have to make the honey comb from 
the wax. The wax comes from the bees. After 
they have loaded up on honey, they hang from 
the roof of the hive in a long string. One bee 
holds on to the hind legs of the one above it. A 
second string is started from another part of the 
roof of the hive, and the bee at the bottom of 
that string clings to the lower bee on the first 
string. They hang in this V shape for a couple 
days. Very slowly, wax oozes from their abdo- 
mens, and they scape it all up and chew it to make 
it ready to build honeycomb. It takes a lot of bees 
to build the comb. Some bring in the wax, others 
have to shape it into six-sided cells. They begin 
building from the top, and add more and more 
cells underneath. Even the most skilled men 
could not do a neater job. 

♦ * * 




WYOMING'S SHIP OF DEATH 



T HREE times a phantom vessel from the 
misty void between life and death has ap- 
peared on the Platte River in Wyoming 
bearing its message of doom. The strangest mys- 
tery of the cattle country, the story of the spec- 
tral ship, is related in official reports of the Bureau 
of Psychological Research at Cheyenne, but the 
weird accounts of its uncanny appearances do not 
reveal from what dim port beyond the veil it car- 
ries its cargo of dread. 

It was in 1862 that the apparition first ap- 
peared, according to bureau records. Leon Web- 
ber, a government Indian scout and trail blazer, 
had selected a site near the river and was engaged 
in building a log cabin. The location in question 
has been determined as six miles southeast of the 
present site of the Guernsey Dam, and near the 
present station of Whalan on the C. B. & Q. Rail- 
road. 

Mr. Webber’s account follows: “Late in the 
afternoon of the twelfth of September I was get- 
ting ready to return to my summer camp some 
two miles down the river, when, glancing up the 
stream, I noticed what appeared to be a gigantic 
ball of fog riding on the surface of the water, near 
the middle of the stream. It was a strange sight 
and, in my excitement, I ran dow r n nearer the 
bank in order to get a better view of whatever 
it might be. My dog came and sat down on the 
ground behind me, and began to whine and whim- 
per as dogs do when there is something at hand 
they do not understand. When I would change 
my position, the dog would do likewise, planting 
himself directly behind me, where he continued 
to give vent to a peculiar sort of sound; a sound 
between a squeak and a whine. 

“As the huge ball of mist came nearer, I picked 
up a stone the size of an egg, which I hurled at 
the floating mass. As the stone left my hand, the 
balloon-shaped cloud assumed the shape of a sail- 
ing vessel of an ancient type. The mast, spars and 
sails seemed to be sheeted with sparkling frost 
or ice. 

“As I watched the apparition, sounds, appar- 
ently produced by the dropping of heavy timbers 
on the deck, came to my ears with chilling dis- 



tinctness. As the sounds ceased, several men in 
the dress of sailors appeared upon the deck, stand- 
ing in a circle of close formation. 

“After a few moments the sailors on my side 
of the circle stepped aside, revealing a large square 
of canvas spread upon the deck, upon which lay 
the corpse of a young and beautiful girl, whose 
wrappings were, like the ship, covered with hoar- 
frost which glittered in the rays of the afternoon 
sun. 

“The ship suddenly veered over to my side of 
the river — and I recognized the corpse of that of 
Margaret Stanley, my best girl-friend — we were 
to have been married early the following spring. 
‘Margy!’ I shouted, preparing to descend to 
the water. 

“At the sound of my voice, ship and sailors 
instantly vanished from view. Although I re- 
mained upon the bank until long after sunset, I 
saw nothing more of the strange phenomenon. 
A month later, I visited the Stanley home and 
was told of Margaret’s death, which took place 
the same afternoon I beheld the Spectral Ship of 
Death upon the waters of the Platte.” 

(Signed) Leon Webber. 

T7R0M its mystic harbor the phantom vessel 
A again sailed in the autumn of 1887 and ap- 
peared to Gene Wilson, a cattleman. His report 
to the Cheyenne bureau is as follows: 

“While rounding up some stray cattle along the 
Platte, my dog ran a few rods ahead of me and, 
while looking up the river, began to raise a ter- 
rible rumpus. I was, at the time, some ten miles 
east of Casper. I tried to ride my horse nearer 
the bank, but he had evidently seen what the 
dog was barking at and, try as I would, he could 
not be made to approach. Throwing the reins 
over his head, I dismounted, when he gave a loud 
snort and started to run away. I caught him and 
tied him to a scrub pine, then approached the 
bank on foot. 

“While gazing out upon the swiftly running 
water, I saw something that set my nerves atingle. 
Near the middle of the stream was a full-rigged 
( Continued on page 152) 



InQ 





A RE tfie tales of strange human powers 
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Cosmic intelligence from the reaches of space 
ebb and flow through the deep recesses of the 
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carry men and women to the heights of per- 
sonal achievement? 

Hare You Had These 
Experiences? 

that unmistakable feeling that you have 

taken the wrong course of action, that you have 
violated some inner, unexpressed, better judg- 
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your own counsel— not to speak words on the 
tip of your tongue in the presence of another. 
That something which pushes you forward 
when you hesitate, or restrains you when you 
are apt to make a wrong move. 

These urges are the subtle influence which 
when understood and directed has made thou- 
sands of men and women masters of their lives. 
There IS a source of intelligence within you as 
natural as your senses of sight and hearing, and 



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(The Rosicrucians are NOT a religious organization.) 



152 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



(Continued from Page 150 ) 
sailing vessel under full sail, yet it did not move 
at all! It was held back, apparently, by a stern 
anchor. 

“Walking up the bank that I might be opposite 
the thing, I saw nine men on board who appeared 
to be sailors. Ship sounds were heard, but they 
seemed to be coming from the other side of the 
river, and not from the ship. The man whom I 
took to be the captain of this strange vessel stood 
with his arms folded, staring toward the bow of 
the ship, giving orders to his men without turn- 
ing his head. 

“ ‘Stand from under!’ came a voice from some- 
where among the rigging — but the speaker was 
hidden from view by the ice-covered sails. As 
the voice was heard, the sailors on deck instantly 
removed their caps and stood uncovered, while 
the ship suddenly veered over to a point not 
thirty feet from where I was standing. ‘Let down !’ 
said the captain without a sign of animation. 

“At the captain’s command, a square of canvas 
was lowered to the deck by four ropes attached 
to its corners. Lying upon the canvas and cov- 
ered with another piece of frost-laden sailcloth 
was what I surmised to be a corpse. In this my 
conclusions were correct. As the sheet came to 
rest upon the deck, one of the sailors stepped for- 
ward and grasping a corner of the sheet, drew it 
aside, disclosing the face of a woman who seemed 
to be terribly burned. In spite of the frightfully 
scarred face, I recognized my wife ! 

“Overcome with terror, I screamed and cov- 
ered my eyes. When I looked again, the ship had 
vanished. After a few moments, I rose and 
mounted my horse and, with all speed, returned 
home to relate to my wife what I had seen. Top- 
ping a hill a quarter of a mile west of my house, 
my heart stopped beating; my blood froze in my 
veins. There, in full view, I discovered my home 
in ashes! Spurring my horse to a run, I was soon 
beside the smoldering embers, frantically calling 
to my wife, who, I was certain, was somewhere 
within the hearing of my voice. 

“Receiving no reply to my repeated calls, I 
hastened toward the river which ran within a 
hundred yards of what had Deen my home, when 
I came suddenly upon the remains of my wife, 
burned to death. My supposition is that, upon 
discovering her clothing to be on fire, she had run 
toward the river bank, hoping to extinguish the 
flames by plunging herself into the water.” 

(Signed) Gene Wilson. 

'T'HE spectral ship last appeared on the after- 
noon of November 20, 1903. Victor Heibe, the 
witness, was chopping up a fallen tree on the river 
bank near his home at Bessemer Bend. Several 
months previously he had defended with his testi- 
mony his friend, Thomas Horn, on trial for mur- 
der in the criminal court at Cheyenne. But Horn 
had been convicted of the crime and sentenced to 
hang. Shortly later the condemned man managed 



to escape from the jail with another prisoner, but 
at the time of the ship’s appearance Heibe did not 
know that Horn had been recaptured. 

Pausing in his work to light his pipe, Heibe 
glanced up the river and noticed a huge ball of 
fog apparently resting on the surface of the water. 
The misty mass was slowly moving down the 
stream, but not as fast as the current was flowing. 
He glanced at his watch. It was exactly three- 
fifteen. Suddenly the sounds of excited voices 
came from the approaching fog-ball. 

Then, as the ball drew nearer and grew in size, 
it began to assume the form of an ancient sailing 
vessel under full sail, but moving slowly, with 
every inch of its surface covered with gleaming 
ice. Several sailors were active on the deck. While 
Heibe watched, spellbound, a large sheet of canvas 
was lowered in front of the sailors on the deck. 
And from behind the canvas voices again drifted 
across the water. 

“All right,” said one voice distinctly, “but I am 
telling you that you are hanging an innocent man.” 
“That,” came a second voice in reply, “is not 
for us to determine. You were tried and con- 
victed for the murder, and it is our duty to ferry 
you across. Men, do your duty.” 

By this time the vapory vessel, slowly moving 
inshore, had reached a point about twenty feet 
from shore, the surface of the river being about 
ten feet below the bank on which Mr. Heibe was 
standing. And suddenly the sheet of canvas was 
raised to its former position among the sails re- 
vealing a scene of horror on the phantom’s deck. 

Mr. Heibe’s report pictures the grim sight as 
follows: “On the forward deck just to the rear 
of the captain, who faced the bow of the craft, 
stood a gallows of the ‘L’ type, from whose cross- 
arms was suspended the body of a man they had 
just hanged. As the body swayed to and fro from 
the rocking of the ship, it turned so that I gazed 
directly into the face. It was the blackened face 
of my dearest friend — he whom I had defended 
with my testimony in the court at Cheyenne only 
a few months previously.” 

As Heibe stumbled down the river bank, shout- 
ing, the ship slowly and silently returned to the 
middle of the stream and faded from view. Later 
inquiry revealed that Thomas Horn had been 
hanged in the jail yard at Cheyenne on the after- 
noon of the same day. And perhaps it should be 
added that Mr. Heibe did not know that the 
phantom vessel had appeared twice before until 
he was asked by the bureau to file his own ac- 
count of his weird experience. 

Three times the phantom ship of the Platte, 
under full sail and coated with glittering ice, has 
emerged from out of the vasty deep. When will 
it again appear with its tale of gruesome tragedy ? 

***** 

( Continued on Page 154) 




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154 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



(Continued, from Page 152) 

DR. JOHN DEE 

J OHN DEE’S name is associated with the 
annals of alchemy, in the laboratory of the 
hermetic researcher, and in the study of the 
curious. He accomplished very little, and in his 
futile research he lost his youth, immolated his 
peace, his reputation; ruined his body and mind, 
and even prostituted his wife upon the altar of 
alchemy, and finally passed unmourned into a 
pauper’s grave. 

John Dee was born in London in 1527, and 
from the very beginning, showed a very keen 
mind. In St. James college he spent about twenty 
hours a day reading, and when his fellow students 
would always see his dim light still on at dawn, 
they started rumors about him. He was shunned 
and the word “sorcery” was used in connection 
with his name. This unbearable environment 
finally was too much for him and he left Cam- 
bridge for Louvain, where he found encourage- 
ment in his strange work. He returned to England 
when he was twenty-four, and was received at 
Court and had a pension of one hundred crowns. 
He remained there for several years as an astrol- 
oger, till he was thrown in prison with a charge 
of conspiracy and heresy against Queen Mary. 
He was accused of being a conjuror and a caller 
of devils. By convincing the Bishop of the or- 
thodoxy of his faith, he was acquitted of both 
charges. For the next few years, he had an easy 
time. With Elizabeth on the throne, his fortunes 
grew. Elizabeth had consulted Dee as to the exact 
time of Mary’s death and also about the date of 
her coronation. As a philosopher, he enjoyed many 
privileges among royalty. 

TREE’S greatest dream was to bridge the gulf 
and explore the mystic borderland. He be- 
lieved that it might be possible for him to hold 
converse with spirits and angels, and to learn 
through them the secrets of the universe. He said 
that one day when he was in deep prayer, the 
window of his museum glowed with a dazzling 
light, in the midst of which stood the angel Uriel. 
The angel smiled graciously and gave him a crys- 
tal of convex form telling him that if he wished 
to communicate with beings of another sphere, he 
only had to gaze into it, and they would appear 
and tell him all the secrets of futurity. 

Dee’s experiments with the crystal were fairly 
successful, but he was never able to recall any of 
the revelations made to him. So he decided to 
confide his secret to another who could look into 
the crystal and talk with the spirits while Dee, 
in the corner of the room, could take notes. So 
he took into his confidence Edward Kelly, the 
man in the black skull cap. The cap was always 
worn to conceal the fact that he was without ears. 
He was accused of forging title deeds, and was 
pilloried in Lancaster, having both ears cut off, 



which was most humiliating to a philosopher. 
After his trial he fled to Wales and there he led 
an outdoor life, wandering about the hills in his 
long black cloak and tightly fitted skull cap with 
only a bit of his features visible. Kelly came into 
an inn in Glastonbury Abbey to spend the night. 
The innkeeper, noting Kelly’s interest in ancient 
writings, produced a manuscript in the old Welsh 
language that was concerning the transmutation of 
metals. It had been brought to light when the 
grave of a bishop in a neighboring church had been 
molested. There was found the manuscript which 
the violators were unable to read, and two caskets 
of ivory, containing respectively, red and white 
powder, which they thought were valueless. Kelly 
bought the whole collection for a guinea and be- 
lieved he had the essentials for the performance 
of the magnum opus. The manuscript was the 
book of St. Dunstan, who was the archbishop 
of Canterbury and was thought to be an alchem- 
ist. Kelly took his treasures and went back to 
London where he went in partnership with Dr. 
Dee. Spirits appeared to Kelly and they had long 
discourses which were recorded by Dee. As the 
men were discussing the transmutation of base 
metal into pure gold, Kelly claimed that he could 
do this, and as proof, placed the Glastonbury man- 
uscript and the two caskets before the amazed Dr. 
Dee. He was intrigued by the glamour of the 
story and readily financed the schemes of his 
sordid-minded partner. They worked years try- 
ing the transmutation and claimed to have some 
success. As their funds were running low, they 
had occasion to meet a wealthy Polish nobleman, 
Count Albert Laski. Laski admired the accom- 
plishments of Dee and Kelly, who cleverly invited 
him to one of their private seances. Kelly worked 
himself up into a frenzy and then stared intently 
into the crystal. He prophecied to the Count 
that he would become the fortunate possessor of 
the philosophers stone, that he was going to live 
for centuries, and that he would rule Poland. 
Then he urged Laski to take Dr. Dee and himself 
back to Poland with him. The scheme worked 
and in no time Dee and Kelly and their families 
were living in luxury on Laski’s money. They set 
up great laboratories and commenced operations 
to turn base metal into pure gold. One experiment 
after another failed till even Laski’s purse began 
to feel the strain. He had mortgaged his estates 
till ruination was at hand. 

So in 1584, the philosophic leeches dropped off 
the poor Laski and went out in search of a new 
victim. The two families went to Bohemia where 
alchemy was the main topic in Prague. Even the 
apartment in the Imperial Palace was fitted out 
as an alchemical laboratory. So you can imagine 
how well the possessors of St. Dunstan’s powders 
were received. It was reported that Kelly was 
having absolute success in transmuting and that he 
had performed one of these operations at the home 
of the Imperial physician. The truth of the mat- 
ter was not verified, but for certain, both families 



FANTASTIC FACTS 



155 



were pulled out of deepest poverty to great wealth. 
A few months later, for unknown reasons they 
were asked to leave Bohemia within twenty -four 
hours. They went from one wealthy family of 
nobility to another, taking out of each all that 
they could get. It is said that they spent four 
years with Count Rosenburg of Trebona. Kelly 
had told Rosenburg that he would become King 
of Poland, and would live five hundred years, pro- 
vided of course that he would supply them with 
sufficient funds to carry on their experiments. 

\17HILE they were staying with the count, Kelly 

T and Dee had many arguments, Dee being a 
weak character, would always give in. Kelly’s 
wife was an ill-tempered, plain looking woman, 
while Mrs. Dee was very pretty. Kelly had for 
long been attracted to Dee’s wife, so one day while 
consulting the crystal, Kelly told Dee that a naked 
woman had appeared to him and told him that 
they should share their wives in common. Dee 
declared that the suggestion was made by a sat- 
ellite of the Evil One and refused to listen to such 
instructions. A quarrel took place and Kelly left 
his associate telling him that he would never come 
back. Dee was now without a proper medium, 
and tried out many people including his eight year 
old son whom he made to look into the crystal 
for weeks. His thoughts kept returning to Kelly, 
whom he missed greatly. After some time Kelly 
did return and Dee felt himself blessed with good- 
fortune to have a colleague who could so readily 
communicate with the spirits who had failed to 
appear for anyone else. When Kelly told him that 
again the spirit had repeated the command that 
they should share their two wives in common, the 
weak philosopher bowed to the evil spirit that in- 
sisted upon such a cruel arrangement. 

Again the party went to Prague. Rudolph, the 
Emperor, became so furious at Kelly for not being 
able to produce that he finally threw him in a 
dungeon. He gained his liberty by promising to 
produce the stone if allowed to return to his 
colleague, Dee. Then Dee’s home was made into 
a prison for Kelly who worked day and night in 
his futile attempts to compile the Stone of the 
Philosophers. At last he gave up in despair, and 
tried to escape. He murdered one of his guards 
but was caught and sent to the Castle of Zerner. 

Dr. Dee and his family set out for England, 
with great wealth and many coaches and servants. 
He had previously sent to Queen Elizabeth, a 
round piece of silver which he claimed he had 
transmuted from a piece of a brass warming pan. 
This had the desired effect and he was invited to 
return to England. The queen told him that noth- 
ing should stand in the way of his experiments 
in alchemical research. Soon he had spent all 
the money he had accumulated in Prague, but 
Elizabeth could not believe that he was in want, 
for after all he was able to make gold from baser 
metal, and so the only favors she gave him were 
occassional audiences and her protection. Dee 
(Continued on Page 156) 



WHY BE AFRAID OF THE DARK? 

T HERE are two reasons why we fear the 
dark; one is physical and the other is 
spiritual. There was good reason for our 
primitive fathers to become frightened when 
darkness came. The jungle life awakened and 
went forth in search of food, and many feasted 
on men who were frightened by the luminous 
eyes peering at them through the darkness. 

Along with this physical fear was the spiritual 
fear which was more overwhelming. Even to 
this day, the superstitious believe that ghosts 
walk about at night and that the air is filled 
with demons. Some believed that “vampires” 
came out of their graves at night and fed on 
human blood sucked from people while they were 
sleeping. There were many reasons why people 
believed that harmful spirits were more apt to 
be about at night than during the day. The Sun 
and Earth were believed to be man and wife. 
This couple required each other to produce living 
things, but each one could singly transmit power. 
It was believed that the Sun could impregnate a 
maiden and become the father of her child. Some- 
times this was regarded as a privilege and the 
saying “Happy the bride that the sun shines on” 
is a result of this belief. Other people were afraid 
of the powers of the sun, and a bridal couple 
were kept under a canopy to prevent a union 
between the sun and bride. 

The Earth was also capable of wonder-working 
through its power of generation. In old Greek 
lore there was a giant named Antaeus who was 
the darling of Earth, his All-Mother. Whenever 
he touched the ground his strength was unbe- 
lievable. During a wrestling match, whenever he 
was thrown to the ground, his mother, Earth, 
renewed his vigor and he was invincible. But 
Heracles was able to conquer him by holding him 
high in the air where his mother could not reach 
him, and choking him to death. 

Canopies were also used in the case of mon- 
archs who were not allowed to touch the ground 
with their bare feet, or have the sun shine on 
their heads. Some countries furnished royal um- 
brellas. The reason for these precautions was 
that at that time, holiness and love were the 
same and holiness was always full of danger. So 
if the sun or earth came in contact with a flower- 
ing maiden or with a monarch, there would be 
dire results for all concerned. The sun might die 
out, and the earth become barren, the royalty 
would become lazy, and young girls would not 
mature. 

Ghosts were believed to walk at night because 
of the fact that they could not endure the light 
of the sun. The forces of Life meant light, and 
death was the mysterious powers of the Darkness. 
So the sun was blessed by man not only because 
it made the land and the people on it fruitful, 
but because it caused the demons, witches, and 
vampires to flee in confusion. 



156 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



struggled till his health failed him. He tried his 
crystal-gazing but did not do so well without 
Kelly. He was finally on the verge of starvation 
and applied to the Queen for relief. She gave him 
small sums and a position as Warden to the college 
of Manchester. While Dee was at Manchester, 
Kelly died in an attempted escape from his dun- 
geon. The death of his lifelong friend and the 
persecution to which he was subjected at the col- 
lege caused him to lose his mind. He died penni- 
less in 1608, and was buried near his home. 

* * * 

THE LITTLE MAN INSIDE 

T HERE is a new novel out today, “The In- 
different Children,” by Andrew Lee, which 
contains a paragraph well-worth quoting, 
from a psychological standpoint. The passage 
goes like this: 

. . if he was ever to get to the bottom of 
fact and experience, if he was ever to kill the little 
observer inside him, that duplicated self whose 
prying gaze made his every act vicarious, then he 
had to separate himself from generalities; he had 
to concentrate on the fact that the whole can’t be 
greater than the sum of its parts.” 

Note that phrase, the little observer inside. How 
many of us have been disturbed by that little 
fellow? Nearly everyone at one time or another 
has felt, that inside him was or is another self, 
who stands aside and sort of observes the actions 
of the person. No matter how intensely a man 
may apply himself to a task, be it the courting of 
a girl or the construction of a machine, many 
times it has been recorded in personal experi- 
ence, that a part of a man stands aside and notes 
what is going on. This may be in the form of 
cynical mental observations such as “what are 
you doing this for?”, or “what a silly fool you’re 
making of yourself,” or “is it worthwhile — what 
you’re doing?” or, “why are you doing this when 
you know it won’t be appreciated?” These and a 
thousand similar questions may be asked by this 
little invisible man. In many cases this little man 
operates to our detriment. He may even induce a 
feeling of inferiority within us, a feeling which is 
hard to attribute to any concrete cause. The voice 
whispers within us. Perhaps in a way, this is the 
origin of the legendary German “Doppelganger.” 
That means literally “A double-goer.” It is sort of 
what we would call a duel personality or a 
schizoid. 

If this manifestation was felt only by people 
who are not in good health either physically or 
mentally, or people whom we can not rely upon 
for accurate statements, we could question the 
matter. But this is not so. Every one of us has 
felt the same thing to a greater or lesser degree. 
It is a common experience in which we all share. 
And the written records show such things in abun- 
dance. The real mystery is that the matter is not 
more commonly discussed. 



T_TOW often have we heard of people hearing 
“voices?” A vast number of people have 
been bothered with this weird phenomenon for 
ages. Such people have often felt themselves ob- 
sessed by a “devil.” We may laugh at such things 
but that doesn’t cancel the reality of the hypo- 
thetical voice to the person hearing it. 

It has not always operated to the detriment of 
people of course. Consider great leaders who have 
felt it. Consider great artists and to a lesser ex- 
tent, great scientists. All have been inspired at one 
time or another by these intuitive voices. 

This is not something to which a measuring in- 
strument can be applied, for it is much too subtle 
for that. There is no way of using a meter-stick 
on mystic facts. That is why so little material in 
the legitimate scientific world, is found of this 
nature. 

There is one man today who is trying to put 
this mysterious activity of the human mind on a 
scientific basis. He is Dr. J. B. Rhine of Duke 
University. We all are familiar with his experi- 
ments in “extra-sensory-perception,” often short- 
ened to “E.S.P.” It is not so well known a fact 
that he has also experimented to some extent 
with such unusual things as we have been dis- 
cussing. In his way, the man is a fearless scien- 
tist. He feels that he is on the threshold of a new 
world of phenomena, new in the sense that these 
things have not been explored. Actually of course 
we know that these things are as old as the re- 
corded histories of mankind. 

With such cold and logical and calculating 
brains devoted to the mystery of why we are 
influenced by “little men in the mind” or “in- 
tuition” or “auto-suggestion,” perhaps a whole 
new field of scientific endeavor will be opened. 
Many philosophers have said “Man knows every- 
thing — excepting himself!” Probably no truer 
observation was ever made. If people begin ac- 
crediting the men who are willing to venture into 
these little known fields of science — not mysticism 
— a whole new way of living and enjoying life 
will be opened to us. 

* * * 

WITCH HUNTERS 

M ANY years ago in the fifteenth century 
there came into being through necessity, 
a group of men whose profession was 
to seek out people suspected of being witches and 
proving their guilt. Mr. Sprenger, of Germany, 
had the distinction of being the most active man 
of his profession. He made up a form of trial, 
and also a course of examination by which his 
predessors even in other countries could discover 
witches. Sprenger alone was responsible for 500 
deaths each year. Within three months, 900 were 
killed in Wurzburg, 600 in Bamberg, and 500 in 
Geneva. A judge in Lorraine took pride in the 
fact that he had condemned 900. The Archbishop 
of Treves blamed the cold spring of 1586 to 



FANTASTIC FACTS 



157 



witchcraft, and burned 1 IS women at one time. 

Pricking was the most common mode of dis- 
covering whether a person was one of Satan’s 
children. The suspects were stripped naked and 
pricked all over with sharp instruments. The 
“physicians” were always anxious to find a spot 
that was insensible to pain, for that was a certain 
proof of guilt. The victims would scream when 
the needles were driven into them and were treated 
so cruelly that death would have been welcome. 
As their bodies became numbed by pain and un- 
consciousness and they failed to react to certain 
pricking, they were immediately burned as witches. 

A French professor in 1720 gives the following 
symptoms as being signs that a person is be- 
witched : 

1. Vomiting needles, nails, and pieces of glass. 

2. Continual burning pains in the region of the 
heart, and the inability to retain food, and the 
feeling that balls were rising and falling in the 
throat. 

3. Suddenly becoming ill, and wasting away 
without any known cause. 

4. Prescribed medicines having the opposite ef- 
fect and making the disease more intense instead 
of curing. To such an extent were cases against 
suspected witches, that even an old sow and her 
litter of little pigs were found guilty and put to 
death. 

James VI of Scotland was a notorious witch- 
finder. The cruel ways in which he tortured the 
beautiful Gellie Duncan and her friend, Dr. Fian, 
are to the discredit of James VI. After the exami- 
nation of Dr. Fian by James was concluded, he 
could no longer be called a man. His legs, in his 
high boots, were crushed to a pulp; his finger 
nails had been drawn out by pincers, and needles 
had been thrust way through his eyes. Restora- 
tives had been given to him time after time to 
make him suffer more pain. In Manningtree, Es- 
sex, in the year 1644, there came into prominence 
a master witch-finder named Mathew Hopkins. 
His method of proving guilt was that of “swim- 
ming” the suspect. The right thumb of the victim 
was tied to the left toe, and the left thumb was 
tied to the right toe, and then he was wrapped 
in a blanket and placed on the back in a pool. If 
the suspect floated, as was nearly always the case, 
he was guilty, and was burned alive; but if he 
sank, he was innocent. Either way was to lose. 
Matthew Hopkins traveled in style with his assis- 
tants. They were put up at the best inns at the ex- 
pense of the villagers and charged 20s. per head 
for each “witch” that they convicted. Another one 
of Hopkins ingenious ways of detecting witches 
was to place a woman in a room crosslegged on a 
stool. She was then watched by his assistants for 
twenty-four hours. All during this time she was 
kept without food or drink. Hopkins’ theory was 
that at some time during the twenty-four hours, 
one of her imps would come- to suck her blood. 
The imp might be in the form of a fly or most any 
insect, and all the doors were left open. It was 



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158 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



the duty of the assistants to kill all the insects 
that appeared, and if a fly should escape, it was 
her imp, and the woman was pronounced guilty 
and sentenced to burn at the stake. Fortunately, 
Hopkins’ idea backfired and he was “swum” ac- 
cording to his own methods, and of course was 
either drowned or burned. 

Witches were seldom hanged because it was 
thought that burning was much more effective, 
for the blood was prevented from being hereditary 
to progeny. 

* * * * * 

G'MOTO'S VENGEANCE 

T HE slave-traders of the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries found their most fertile 
source of human supplies on the west coast 
of Africa. Mercilessly they raided the Gold Coast, 
Portuguese Mozambique, and all those western 
African lands that later became huge colonies of 
the major European powers. 

As time went on, the natives became more and 
more wary and it was necessary for the slavers to 
use more devious and subtle methods to enmesh 
their prey. Often pretending to be innocent goods- 
traders, they would lure large numbers of natives 
into their trading compounds and after surround- 
ing them, seize them, chain them and ship them to 
the Americas. Sometimes a variation of this 
technique would require a more effective spokes- 
man and lure in the form of what we would call 
a “Quizling” native. This native would be highly 
paid to summon his “friends” to a position where 
they could be captured by the slavers. 

Captain Jeremy Teecourser, an unblushing 
scoundrel and a vicious slaver of forty years stand- 
ing, relates an incident which even in his highly 
practical eyes assumes mysterious proportions. On 
October 11, 1754, the good captain landed on the 
west coast of Africa, where he contacted almost 
immediately a renegade native from the G’Moto 
tribe, a group of brave and courageous natives, 
who would ordinarily never be caught by slavers. 
Using Gallo (the native’s name) an assistant chief, 
and promising him great wealth, Teecourser was 
able to make a haul of “Black Ivory” of great size. 
He bagged a great number of the tribesmen. 
Having full confidence in Gallo who had been an 
assistant chief for many years, they were caught 
flat-footed— among them was the chief, G’Moto, 
an elderly but noble man of some seventy years. 
Teecourser took him with, primarily to keep the 
natives more or less pacified and to prevent them 
from giving him any more trouble than was 
necessary. 

Teecourser took his load of slaves to Haiti after 
paying off Gallo and ordinarily the affair would 
have ended then. But a colleague, also hunting 
slaves, caught up a bunch of natives, among whom 
was the traitor, Gallo. Gallo could do nothing 
with this new man, of course, and he, too, was 
shipped as a slave. But more than coincidence 



seems to have stepped in, for he was shipped to 
Haiti, too ! 

News travels fast among enslaved peoples. It 
was not long after Gallo was working in Haiti on 
a plantation, that his presence became known to 
G’Moto’s tribe, most of whom had been sent to 
the opposite end of the island. The night of this 
discovery, in their miserable huts, the tribesmen 
held a voodoo meeting, certainly intent on destroy- 
ing the cause of their misery. Plans were made to 
sneak one man away, a young powerful warrior 
whose duty was to cut Gallo’s throat. But before 
he could run away, G’Moto stepped in. 

TTE HARANGUED his tribesmen long and 

-*■ loudly. He pointed out that the gods could 
be satisfied only by Gallo’s death through their 
intervention. Therefore they must plead with the 
gods to destroy Gallo — not to do it themselves so 
directly. Respecting G’Moto, they acceded, and 
long into the night the weird prayers and chant- 
ings went on. The drums beat almost silently. 
On the other end of the island, Gallo knew what 
was going on — he felt it. 

All through the night the invocations to the god 
went on, progressing from the mad voodoo dance 
to the sacrifice of the chicken. What a sight that 
must have been ! In the dimly -lit, smoke-filled, 
reeking huts, fifty powerful lusty young warriors 
and maidens went into their frenzied dance to the 
muted beats of the drums, beats, that crept in the 
mind not through the ears, but through the oiled 
black skin. At the height of the orgiastic festival, 
when the compound was literally filled with mad- 
dened beasts, G’Moto arose from the dias where he 
reigned, and with his powerful wiry fingers tore 
out the throat of the writhing chicken handed him 
by one of the dancers. The blood gushed out over 
G’Moto and bathed in his enemy’s heart-fluid, 
G’Moto symbolically enjoyed the death of Gallo. 

What happened? 

For a week, apparently nothing. Then one 
morning, an overseer, making the usual morning 
rounds, stumbled into one of the huts where his 
master’s slaves were kept. He looked down at an 
inert object and then shuddered. 

There law Gallo, his sightless eyes grinning up- 
ward, his face a death-mask, and his throat a 
bloody mass of torn flesh and gristle, as if some 
gigantic mouth had torn it asunder ! Gallo had 
met his fate! 

There is no explanation. No native would ever 
admit doing it, and even if he had, it was almost 
a physical impossibility to do anything of the sort. 
Logicians can explain away such things very easily, 
but there are those, even today, who prefer to 
think that there was the intercession of some 
foreign agent. Captain Teecourser, shrewd old 
Yankee that he was, only related the story — he 
never offered any explanations, and when ques- 
tioned on this he gave the answer that he often 
used in his diaries — “There arc strange 
things . . 



FANTASTIC FACTS 



159 



WHITE LADY OF DEATH 

T HE legendary “white lady” of the Hollen- 
zollerns is said to have appeared before 
every crisis in the history of the family. 
During the fourteenth century the widow of a 
nobleman fell in love with a Hollenzollern prince 
who ruled over Brandenburg. The prince told 
her that he could never marry her because of 
“four eyes.” Because she had two children, she 
thought that he was referring to them, so she 
pushed her eyes out thinking that she was remov- 
ing the obstacle to their marriage. After she had 
done this, he still did not marry her, and she died 
soon after the tragedy. Since her death she has 
haunted the palaces of the Hollenzollerns, always 
appearing as an omen of death. 

During the reign of Frederick the First, the 
Queen was giving a royal ball. Many of the crown 
heads of Europe were present. The queen was 
playing cards with some ambassadors and the 
young people were dancing, when suddenly the 
music stopped. The young princesses came run- 
ning to her, pale and horrified. They said that 
they had looked out the window and had seen the 
Lady in White floating among the lilac bushes. 
A heavy silence settled over the gay ballroom 
scene, and all that could be heard was the sound 
of the king hammering in his carpentry shop. 
He was troubled with gout and the exercise kept 
him from being so stiff. The sweet scent of lilacs 
floated through the windows and sentries came 
from different wings and gates of the palace to 
report that they had seen the White Lady floating 
through the corridors and gardens. 

After the queen recovered her composure, she 
ordered the music to start for the dancers, and she 
sat down again to play cards. Suddenly there 
were exclamations of wonder and delight, and the 
queen turned, and to her great surprise, saw the 
king coming down the corridor. His eyes reflected 
anger and his legs trembled even though he was 
supported by two valets. He came straight to the 
queen and grabbed her savagely by the arm. He 
uttered disgust at the sight of her wearing jewelry 
and enjoying earthly pleasures. He commanded 
all to follow him and refused to disclose his plan. 
No one dared to disobey, and the long procession 
of bejewelled ladies and gentlemen of his court 
followed the royal pair through endless corridors 
and staircases until they at last reached the White 
Salon which Frederick had built and decorated. 
The doors were flung open and the queen cried in 
horror as she saw two coffins. The king explained 
in his cruel sarcastic voice that he had made them 
himself that very night while she revelled with the 
others. His sadistic mind commanded her to climb 
into her coffin that he had just made for her, in 
order that he and all the others might see just how 
she would look. The queen faltered a moment as 
though she might dare to disobey, but then she 
asked her maids to help her. She lifted the hem 
of her royal robe and stepped over the edge of her 
coffin. She stood regally for a moment and then 




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lay still and calm with her eyes closed in her new 
white coffin. The king looked at her with cruel 
lines marking his face. In a few minutes she 
opened her eyes and looked at him, and then 
climbed out of the coffin. She bowed to the king 
and told him it was now his turn. His courtiers 
helped him to lie down in his coffin and he re- 
marked that he would soon be sleeping there. At 
that very moment, the grave silence was broken 
by cries and the sound of sentries running in the 
antechamber. It seems that they had seen the 
Lady in White go through the whole corridor and 
enter the room where they were congregated. 

They were all numbed with fear and the king 
asked if the White Lady wore white gloves or 
black ones. When the Lady wears white gloves, 
it means a woman is to die, and if she wears 
black gloves it means the death of a man. One 
of the aids finally broke the silence by telling the 
king that she wore black gloves. He knew that 
her presence meant death for him and he asked 
to be helped from the coffin saying that he would 
be put back in it soon enough. 

The next morning the king lay dying. The 
White Lady of death had won again. 

• * * 

THE CORNER STONE 

I N MODERN times the ceremony of “laying 
the cornerstone” is regarded as having only 
sentimental value, and adding nothing to the 
stability of the building. Competent architects 
and skilled workmen insure permanence and 
strength of the structure, and if the man who 
lays the cornerstone drops dead during the cere- 
mony, it will have no effect on the permanence 
of the building. Years ago the opposite was true. 
Laying the cornerstone with a solemn ceremony, 
sacrificing a human being, was much more im- 
portant than the workmanship. Then the people 
believed that the soil was owned by the spirits 
and they resented having human beings deface 
their landscapes with their dwellings. These spirits 
were so powerful that if they were not continu- 
ally appeased, they could destroy the human race. 
So the art of making the gods happy was the 
most important one of all for without their hap- 
piness all the other arts would be meaningless. 

There is a Danish legend that has to do with a 
curse upon the walls of Copenhagen. Each time 
they built the walls up, they fell down again. 
Finally the people took a sweet little girl and sat 
her on the ground with her toys. While she was 
amusing herself, they built the \^alls around her. 
Without this sacrifice, all the skill in the world 
would have been of no help, but by the offering 
of this child, the gods were appeased, the curse 
was lifted, and the walls of the city were allowed 
to stand. 

While the fort of Scutari was being built, a 
ghost appeared and demanded that a certain 
woman be buried alive in the foundation. The 
builders thought it would be impractical to go 



FANTASTIC FACTS 



161 



on with their work and not heed the demand of 
one in the great beyond, so the sacrifice was car- 
ried out. 

There is a German legend that two brothers 
lie entombed in the foundation of the Strassburg 
Cathedral. Also a story that the wife of a fa- 
mous architect, who had drawn up the plans for a 
certain edifice, was cemented into the foundation 
at the command of an archangel from heaven. 

These human sacrifices were hard on the tender- 
hearted people, so in years to come, the priests, 
who were representatives of the gods, contented 
themselves with the first fruits of the flocks or 
the field. 

There is a Jewish legend that when the Jews 
were told to make bricks without adding straw, 
they were not able to make their quota in their 
allotted time. So the Pharaoh commanded them 
to brick up little children in the walls that should 
have been filled with bricks. 

Fortunately a change was made from offering 
human beings. For instance a ram was slaugh- 
tered instead of Isaac, and a doe in place of 
Iphigenia. In some places in Africa, the shadow 
of the man is believed to contain his soul. So 
when a hut was to be built, it was the custom 
for someone to sneak up to an unsuspecting person 
and measure his shadow with a stick and then 
throw the stick into the ground that was to bo 
covered by the hut. Of course, no African would 
want his shadow entombed if he could avoid it, 
for it would mean that his soul had been given 
to the foundation gods and he couldn’t expect to 
live much longer. But this was much better than 
burying the man himself. 

So from such pagan beginnings, our modern 
ceremony of laying the cornerstone has developed. 
Instead of scaling a man, woman, or animal in 
the cornerstone, we seal in some documents of 
historic interest, so that when the building becomes 
old and is torn down, archaeologists may find in- 
formation of our civilization. 

* * * 

THE EXTINCT TRIBE 
OF THE ABIPONES 

T HE ABIPONES were a South American 
tribe which wandered over the Gran Chaco 
region. They became expert horsemen and 
were implacable foes of the Spaniards. They 
made their living by hunting, and were physically 
well built. For weapons they used the bow and 
arrow, lance and shield. The women of the tribe 
did the tattooing, and the men practiced couvade. 
Couvade was a primitive custom in which the 
man of the family took to his bed when a child 
was born, or cared for the child, or submitted 
himself to fasting and purification. Because of 
constant wars with the Spaniards and also due 
to their customs of killing all but two children 
born to a family, the tribe which once numbered 
5000 is now extinct. 



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162 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 



REVEALED AT LAST! 




HITLER’S 

STRANGE 
LOVE 
LIFE 



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THE GHOST OF 
NAP01E0N 

★ By A. MORRIS * 



N APOLEON’S mother was living alone in 
an apartment in Rome during the spring 
of 1821. Although she was old, blind and 
nearly paralyzed, she never gave up in her efforts 
to help her son, Napoleon, who was exiled on the 
rock of St. Helena four thousand miles away. She 
managed to send him two priests, a servant and a 
cook, and a Corsican doctor. There was a great 
love between Napoleon and his mother. He had 
always said: “All that I am and was I owe to my 
mother; she taught me her own principles and 
encouraged me in the habit of work.” 

During his six years of exile his mother, Letizia, 
never gave up hope that some day he would return 
to France. It was a warm spring day in May, 
1821, and Letizia sat dozing in her drawing room. 
Her porter was also napping in the hallway down- 
stairs, when a harsh voice spoke to him command- 
ing him to take him to ‘La Signora Madre’. He 
said he had brought news of her son, the exiled 
Emperor at St. Helena. The porter delivered his 
message to Letizia, and she said to show him in at 
once. The stranger stepped into the room and did 
not drop his enormous cloak till the door had 
closed behind him. When he revealed himself, 
Letizia could see him clearly even though all else 
was blurred. Letizia was unable to speak, but her 
shaking hands caressed his cheek. She thought 
that he had managed to escape St. Helena and 
had come to her for shelter. He stepped back 
away from her and said in a solemn manner, “May 
the fifth, eighteen hundred and twenty-one — to- 
day !” His tone of voice paralyzed her senses and 
he stepped back and vanished from her sight. She 
hurried to the porter in the hallway and asked 
where the stranger had gone, but the porter said 
that he had not yet left her apartment. 

On that very day on the rock of St. Helena in 
the Atlantic, the birds were not singing. Instead it 
was raining furiously. Napoleon lay dying on the 
narrow camp bed he had used in Austerlitz. There 
was the sickening odor of stables coming in 
through the cracks of his shabby bedroom, and 
rats ran about among his few little keepsakes — 
candlesticks from St. Cloud, a picture of Josephine, 
a gold watch of Rivoli, a silver clock from Fred- 
erick the Great. The light from a night-lamp cast 
an eerie veil over the Roman Emperor’s face and 
brought back the ghost of the youth Letizia had 
loved. 

It was three months before Letizia learned that 
Napoleon had died on May fifth, eighteen twenty- 
one. 



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reading material, why not depend on the guarantee that goes with 
long experience! Ziff-Davis Fiction Group magazines are time-tested. 

For twenty-two years, magazines in this group have accepted the 
challenge of competition and remained unshaken. Readers have dis- 
covered the high quality that goes along with the name, Ziff-Davis. 

The editors of the Fiction Group magazines have had many years of 
experience. They know their business! 



Listen To Our "Voice Of Experience" When We Say: 

“Get the ZIFF-DAVIS habit, and guarantee your reading pleasure!” 

AMAZING STORIES 

Here's a magazine which completes twenty-two years of continuous publication 
with th® March issue! The first science -fiction magazine in the world, it is 
still the best in the world! 



FANTASTIC ADVENTURES 

The First issue of this leader in the fantasy field appeared in May, 1939. Since 
then it has gained in popularity to such an extent that many of its stories have 
been republished repeatedly in anthologies as classics. 



MAMMOTH WESTERN 

Comparatively a "youngster" in the Fiction Group, first appearing in Septem- 
ber, 1945, this magazine is edited by the same men who prepare the other two 
magazines of the groi o. More people read it than any other in the group, 
proving its unquestioned quality. 



TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE FACTS! 

1. Every Story Complete! 

2. Giant Size. 

3. Edited Like A "Slick" Magazine! 



ALL THREE MAGAZINES ON SALE EVERY MONTH 





Are you interested in the almost forgotten past of the 
Earth? If you are, here is the wonder book of all time 
concerning the great catastrophe which destroyed the 
civilization of 24,000 years ago! 

"I REMEMBER LEMURIA!" 

This is an incredible story of a Pennsyl- 
vania welder who began to receive strange 
thoughts from his electric welder. At first 
he thought he was going mad, but then, 
when the astounding story of Lemuria came 
to him, he realized that here was something 
more than mere madness. His experiences 
convinced him that what he was hearing 
was true. Whether his "memories" are true 
or not is for you to judge. Thousands of 
people have already claimed "1 Remember 
Lemuria!" and its sequel of 10, OOP years 
later, "The Return of Sathanas" is a revela- 
tion, The evidence of its truth is self-con- 
tained for those who will read, and think! 

P afrtictdanlif. n.e&o**une*:ded ta 

Studestti. the Occult 

Limited edition. t Set your copy nov*. The 
price is $3.00 postpaid. Only prepaid orders 
accepted. 

VENTURE PRESS 

3CS STUDIO BLDG., 1718 SHERMAN AVE.. EVANSTON. ILLINOIS 




by RICHARD 
S. SHAVER 








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